Ahead of its downstream refinery pre-feasibility debut, Blackstone Minerals (ASX: BSX) has generated its first batch of precursor battery-grade nickel-cobalt-manganese (NCM) material using ore from the flagship Ta Khoa nickel project in Vietnam and third-party feed.
The ore sample was taken from the project’s Ban Phuc disseminated orebody and other third party feed sources.
A nickel concentrate blend was produced then further refined in Simulus Engineer’s lab to create the NCM811 precursor sample with a purity of 99.7%.
Analysis of the precursor material has confirmed it meets specifications for the lithium-ion battery industry.
“The production of high purity NCM811 precursor is an important milestone for the company as we take the next steps towards our ambition to become a globally significant producer of class one nickel products for the lithium-ion battery industry,” Blackstone managing director Scott Williamson said.
Mr Williamson has also confirmed the pre-feasibility study into developing a downstream refinery in northern Vietnam will be unveiled on Monday 26 July.
The study has investigated the viability of developing a refinery to produce precursor battery material using ore from Ta Khoa and third parties.
“We expect that this will be a major catalyst for the next phase and growth and development for the company,” Mr Williamson added.
Ta Khoa nickel project
Blackstone’s flagship Ta Khoa project is located 160km west of Hanoi in Vietnam’s Son La Province.
The project hosts an existing modern nickel mine and 450,000 tonne per annum plant that were operated between 2013 and 2016 before being closed due to depressed nickel prices.
Blackstone is advancing Ta Khoa through two separate pre-feasibility studies – one focused on a mining operation, with the other evaluating a proposed downstream refinery.
The company aims to boost its mining inventory across Ta Khoa while also sourcing third party concentrate to feed the downstream refinery to meet mounting demand for battery materials in South East Asia.