Multi-commodity producer Blackstone Minerals (ASX: BSX) has confirmed that a drilling campaign at the newly-discovered King Cobra target within its Ta Khoa nickel project in Northern Vietnam has intersected 60 metres grading 1.3% nickel from 32m.
Six new holes returned significant intersections of nickel mineralisation with some of the best results seen to date at Ta Khoa, including 13.9m at 2.25% nickel from the King Cobra Zone and 142m at 0.41%, including 11.9m at 1.09% from the underlying Ban Duoi Zone.
King Cobra was discovered in December as a new, near-surface zone of nickel sulphide bearing semi-massive sulphide veins.
It includes the first-ever intersection of massive sulphide vein and breccia styles of sulphide mineralisation within the regional Ban Phuc intrusion.
It is speculated that the intersection may provide vectors towards the high grade feeder zone mineralisation within the discovery.
Blackstone said it would continue an aggressive drilling program at Ban Phuc with four rigs testing the disseminated mineralisation, including two rigs on priority step-out drilling testing for potentially significant expansions to the known Ban Phuc DSS orebody and the down dip feeder zone target at the King Cobra target zone.
“King Cobra continues to grow, as does our understanding of the geology of the Ban Phuc deposit,” said managing director Scott Williamson.
“The discovery is shaping up to be a high-grade, near-surface, large-scale disseminated nickel-platinum group elements zone which has potential to deliver a highly economic starter pit at Ta Khoa.”
Blackstone controls the highly-prospective Ta Khoa district in Vietnam’s Son La Province, considered the premier nickel-PGE sulphide district in South East Asia with significant infrastructure advantages via the existing Ban Phuc mine which has been built to Australian standards and has been under care and maintenance since 2016 due to weak nickel prices.
The infrastructure includes an internationally-designed 450,000 tonne per annum processing plant and nearby low-cost and under-utilised hydroelectric power.
Feeding an industry
Blackstone is advancing an initial scoping study evaluating mining and processing options for Ta Khoa, including potential in-country downstream processing to feed high-value nickel sulphate to Asia’s rapidly expanding electric vehicle industry.
Last month, the company signed an agreement with Korean electric vehicle battery cathode manufacturer Ecopro BM Co Ltd for the development of a downstream processing facility using raw material from Ta Khoa.
Ecopro BM is a world leader in the high-volume cathode material market and currently Korea’s largest cathode manufacturer.
“Ta Khoa represents a true, district-scale nickel-PGE sulphide opportunity of a calibre rarely controlled by a junior company and has significant potential to deliver critical raw materials required for Ecopro’s cathode manufacturing process,” Mr Williamson said.
“We are confident this project can help meet the ever-increasing demand for high-nickel content cathodes driven by the imminent electric vehicle revolution.”
At morning trade, shares in Blackstone were down 3.03% to $0.16.