In the wake of continued exploration success at Ta Khoa, Blackstone Minerals (ASX: BSX) has doubled exploration capacity at the flagship nickel-copper-platinum group element project in Vietnam.
The company revealed a second geophysics crew and three additional drill rigs were now focused on Ta Khoa to expedite exploration.
Blackstone noted that previous geophysics programs had been “highly effective” in identifying nickel sulphide targets and expects an additional crew will assist with firming up more targets.
As part of its accelerated exploration, Blackstone plans to release a maiden resource estimate this quarter, with the new rigs to undertake infill drilling as well as focusing on new targets.
All-up, Blackstone has six diamond drill rigs operating across the project – four, of which, it owns.
Blackstone claims purchasing its own rigs has provided “substantial cost savings” of approximately a 60% reduction of per metre drilling costs relative to Australian industry averages.
According to Blackstone managing director Scott Williamson, the accelerated exploration will help the company to “rapidly unlock” the “world-class” nickel district at Ta Khoa.
“The additions will ensure we can progress the project as rapidly as possible in a cost-effective manner,” he explained.
“We are looking forward to a steady stream of drilling results during Q3 and Q4 2020 and will keep our shareholders up to date as results become available.”
Ta Khoa nickel project
Earlier this week, Blackstone announced it had encountered further high-grade nickel-copper and PGE at the Ban Chang prospect within the project.
The mineralisation was intersected in the fourth and final hole of the maiden drilling program at the prospect.
Assays for the final hole were 13.4m at 1.01% nickel, 0.96% copper, 0.05% cobalt and 1.14 grams per tonne PGE from 76m, including 2.1m at 2.53% nickel, 1.36% copper, 0.11% cobalt and 0.76g/t PGE from 77.6m.
Blackstone pointed out that all four holes from the maiden program had hit high-grade massive sulphide nickel over 1.2km of strike and within a 1.2km target zone that was identified by high priority electromagnetic plates.
Mr Williamson also said Ban Chang was the first of 25 targets to be tested throughout the project.
The company’s strategy is to uncover high-grade feed sources to compliment potential bulk open pit minng at Ban Phuc and KCZ.
As part of the Blackstone’s plan to unlock the most value from the project, it will undertake a scoping study to evaluate the viability of downstream processing to generate a battery grade nickel sulphate product for the region’s lithium-ion battery sector.
The project already has a 450,000tpa processing plant on site that has been on care and maintenance since 2016.