An aggressive exploration program by Blackstone Minerals (ASX: BSX) at the King Cobra target within its flagship Ta Khoa nickel-copper-platinum group elements project in Vietnam has extended the discovery at depth.
Three maiden drill holes at the centre of the King Cobra target, located within the Ban Phuc disseminated mineralisation (DSS), intersected significant results of 58.15m at 0.92% nickel, 0.15% copper, 0.02% cobalt and 0.17 grams per tonne platinum group elements from 58.2m, including 46.8m at 1.04% nickel, 0.18% copper, 0.20% cobalt and 0.19g/t PGE from 65.8m.
Other assays were 74.8m at 0.83% nickel, 0.12% copper, 0.02% cobalt and 0.19g/t PGE from 61.5m, including 16.25m at 1.31% nickel, 0.17% copper, 0.02% cobalt and 0.30g/t PGE from 63.5m; and 3.5m at 2.36% nickel, 0.22% copper, 0.06% cobalt and 0.03g/t PGE from 156.5m.
Drilling continues to intersect the King Cobra zone over 200m of strike and the discovery remains open down dip and along strike to the north-west and south-east.
Blackstone has completed initial resource work at Ban Phuc, and the DSS has been encountered in drill holes over an area spanning 1000m by 500m.
It remains open along strike to the north-west and south-east and down dip to the north-east.
Initial geological modelling of its planned drilling campaign – combined with more than 60,000m across 381 holes drilled by previous owners – has revealed the potential extents of the Ban Phuc deposit.
Blackstone said it would continue its exploration of King Cobra with one rig targeting the down dip extents.
Blackstone has completed an initial scoping study for Ta Khoa, evaluating mining and processing options including a potential in-country downstream facility to deliver high-value nickel sulphate into Asia’s electric vehicle industry.
That plan moved a step closer to reality in April on completion of a $6.8 million binding share purchase agreement with Korea’s largest – and the world’s second largest – nickel-rich cathode materials manufacturer, EcoPro Co.
Under that agreement, the two companies will partner to develop a downstream processing facility in Vietnam, allowing EcoPro to secure access to stable and competitive materials for its business.
The Ta Khoa project includes an existing modern nickel mine which has been under care and maintenance since 2016 due to falling nickel prices, and an internationally-designed 450,000 tonnes per annum processing plant.
While previous project owners focused their mining and exploration efforts primarily on the MSV at Ban Phuc, Blackstone plans to explore both MSV and DSS targets, initially within a 5km radius of the plant.
The company aims to deliver a maiden resource this quarter, focused initially on Ban Phuc DSS, and said it would continue to investigate the options regarding a restart the existing Ban Phuc concentrator.