Maiden drilling at Blackstone Minerals’ (ASX: BSX) Ban Khoa target within the Ta Khoa nickel-copper-platinum group elements (PGE) project in northern Vietnam has intersected 147 metres of disseminated nickel sulphide.
Ban Khoa is a bulk tonnage, open pit opportunity with potential to extend the mine life of the nearby Ban Phuc open pit deposit.
It is being targeted for inclusion in Blackstone’s upstream business unit (UBU) pre-feasibility study.
Highlights from the maiden program were 147m at 0.31% nickel, 0.04% copper, 0.01% cobalt and 0.14g/t PGE from 62m, including 34.65m at 0.55% nickel, 0.08% copper, 0.01% cobalt and 0.37g/t PGE from 103.7m, including 10.6m at 1.06% nickel, 0.11% copper, 0.02% cobalt and 0.88g/t PGE from 123.3m.
Also returned were results of 67.7m at 0.33% nickel, 0.04% copper, 0.01% cobalt and 0.19g/t PGE from 105.3m; 32.1m at 0.48% nickel, 0.08% copper, 0.01% cobalt and 0.33g/t PGE from 193.1m; and 60.2m at 0.37% nickel, 0.07% copper, 0.01% cobalt and 0.09g/t PGE from 208.6m, including 10.8m at 1.03% nickel, 0.13% copper, 0.02% cobalt and 0.39g/t PGE from 210.2m.
All reported PGE results refer to a mix of platinum, palladium and gold.
Blackstone managing director Scott Williamson was pleased with the first results from Ban Khoa.
“Ban Khoa is a bulk tonnage, disseminated opportunity for us to complement mining and processing of material from the large Ban Phuc open pit orebody,” he said.
“We are confident these drilling results are indicative of the significant geological upside that we will continue to unlock at Ta Khoa.”
Ta Khoa studies
Blackstone owns a 90% interest in the Ta Khoa project which is located 160km west of Hanoi in Vietnam’s Son La Province and includes the Ban Phuc existing modern nickel mine built to Australian standards but currently under care and maintenance.
In October, the company released a scoping study which investigated mining the Ban Phuc disseminated nickel sulphide orebody (upstream) and the construction of a 200,000 per annum downstream refinery.
It has since completed a “technically and economically-robust” pre-feasibility study for its downstream business unit (DBU) which explores the potential for expanded downstream capacity.
The company is currently completing a UBU pre-feasibility study which will consider the option to mine several higher-grade massive sulphide vein deposits, and explore the possibility of reducing initial upfront capital requirements by enabling the restart of the existing 450,000tpa Ban Phuc concentrator.
By combining Ban Phuc’s existing mineral inventory with the exploration potential of high-priority targets at Ban Chang, King Snake, Ta Cuong and Ban Khoa and the ability to source third party concentrate, Mr Williamson said Blackstone could increase the scale of its downstream business to cater to rising demand for downstream nickel products.