Infill drilling at Blackstone Minerals’ (ASX: BSX) Ta Khoa nickel-copper-platinum group elements (PGE) project in northern Vietnam has intersected 375 metres of nickel sulphide near the surface.
The drilling program focused on the Ban Phuc disseminated sulphide deposit, which will underpin the Ta Khoa upstream business unit (UBU) pre-feasibility study (PFS) due later this year.
The intersection started from a depth of 2m and graded 0.3% nickel, 0.01% copper, 0.01% cobalt and 0.07 grams per tonne PGE, including 49m at 0.45%, 0.04% copper, 0.01% cobalt and 0.17g/t PGE from 2m.
Drilling highlights also included: 211m at 0.43% nickel, 0.03% copper, 0.01% cobalt and 0.13g/t PGE from 111m including 52m at 0.74% nickel, 0.11% copper, 0.01% cobalt and 0.31g/t PGE from 241m; and 156m at 0.5% nickel, 0.07% copper, 0.01% cobalt and 0.15g/t PGE from 79m including 31m at 0.75% nickel, 0.14% copper, 0.01% cobalt and 0.26g/t PGE from 83m.
Blackstone is aiming to increase the confidence of the existing JORC resource at Ban Phuc, which currently contains an indicated resource of 44.3 million tonnes at 0.52% nickel for 229,000 tonnes nickel and an inferred resource of 14.3Mt at 0.35% nickel for 50,000t nickel.
“The high tenor of results from the final infill drilling program increases the confidence of the resource at Ban Phuc, and the mine plan that will underpin Blackstone’s UBU PFS,” Blackstone managing director Scott Williamson said.
“In the relatively short amount of time since acquiring the Ta Khoa nickel-copper-PGE project, Blackstone has been able to define a large, disseminated sulphide deposit which considerably adds to the security of supply for the company’s vertically integrated downstream refinery.”
Ta Khoa project development
The Ta Khoa project, located 160km west of Hanoi in northern Vietnam, includes an existing modern underground nickel mine that has been under care and maintenance since 2016.
Blackstone, which owns 90% of the project, completed a scoping study in October last year investigating the potential of mining the Ban Phuc disseminated nickel sulphide orebody (upstream) and the construction of a 200,000t per annum downstream refinery.
The company has since completed a “technically and economically robust” PFS for its downstream business unit based on a 400,000tpa nickel refinery with supply deriving from both the Ta Khoa mine as well as third party concentrate.
Last month, Blackstone said it was immediately progressing approvals to commence the next phase of definitive feasibility studies and pilot plant testing in Vietnam to produce precursor battery-grade nickel-cobalt-manganese (NCM811).