Perth-based Blackstone Minerals (ASX: BSX) has hit further high-grade nickel-copper-platinum group elements (PGE) in a fourth and final hole of a maiden drilling program on the Ban Chang prospect in Vietnam.
The company has now received assays from all four maiden holes at the prospect, which lies within the Ta Khoa project west of Hanoi in the country’s north.
All of the holes hit high-grade massive sulphide nickel over a 1.2km strike within a 1.2km long massive sulphide target zone defined by high priority electromagnetic plates.
Highlights from the latest hole include a 13.4m intersection grading at 1.01% nickel, 0.96% copper, 0.05% cobalt and 1.14 grams per tonne PGE from a depth of 76m, including 2.1m at 2.53% nickel, 1.36% copper, 0.11% cobalt and 0.76g/t PGE from 77.6m.
It follows encouraging results from the previous three holes including 1.05m at 2.98% nickel, 1.22% copper, 0.18% cobalt and 3.43g/t PGE from 58.5m in the first hole and 1.85m at 3.59% nickel, 1.18% copper, 0.20% cobalt and 1.97g/t PGE from the third hole.
In addition, Blackstone managing director Scott Williamson said the fourth hole has delivered the broadest Ban Chang intersection to date – a 21.5m intersection at 0.69% nickel, 0.66% copper, 0.03% cobalt and 0.81g/t PGE from 71m.
“Hole four… confirms we have a bulk tonnage opportunity that has potential to deliver significant high-grade nickel to our future mine plan, which will be underpinned by a base load feed coming from our flagship Ban Phuc orebody which includes the King Cobra discovery zone (KCZ),” he said.
Potential high-grade feed to add to Ban Phuc mining scenario
The Ta Khoa nickel-copper-PGE project includes an existing modern nickel mine that has been under care and maintenance since 2016 due to falling nickel prices. Existing infrastructure includes a 450,000 tonne-per-annum processing plant.
Blackstone plans to deliver a maiden resource for the project in the third quarter, focused initially on the disseminated sulphides (DSS) at Ban Phuc.
It also continues to investigate the potential to restart the existing Ban Phuc concentrator through focused exploration on both massive sulphide vein and DSS deposits.
“Ban Chang is the first of our 25 MSV targets to be tested throughout the Ta Khoa Ni-Cu-PGE district, leaving plenty of upside for adding high-grade feed to what looks like a bulk open pit mining scenario at Ban Phuc and KCZ,” Mr Williamson said.
In addition, a maiden resource at Ban Chang will supplement an ongoing scoping study on downstream processing to produce nickel sulphate for Asia’s growing lithium-ion battery industry.
The scoping study is expected to be announced in the third quarter and will provide details for joint venture partners to formalise the next stage of investment.
Drilling is continuing with three rigs currently testing the KCZ, Ban Chang East and Ban Chang West targets.