Blackstone Minerals (ASX: BSX) has discovered a new, near-surface nickel sulphide zone named King Cobra at its flagship Ta Khoa nickel and platinum group elements (PGE) project in Vietnam.
The Perth-based explorer said the discovery includes near-surface downhole intervals up to 60m and visual estimates of up to 20% sulphide mineralisation.
According to Blackstone, King Cobra also contains the “first-ever” intersection of massive sulphide vein and breccia styles of sulphide mineralisation within the Ban Phuc intrusion, which “may provide vectors towards the high-grade feeder zone mineralisation”.
Blackstone managing director Scott Williamson described the King Cobra find as a “step change” for exploration of the deposit.
“A substantial thickness of disseminated and potentially higher-grade nickel–PGE mineralisation within a few metres of surface may prove to be a bulk mineable opportunity,” he said.
New assay results from the Ban Phuc disseminated sulphide also comprised the broadest downhole intersections of nickel mineralisation to date, including 106m grading at 0.45% nickel and 51m at 0.73% nickel, with higher grade zones of 15.6m at 1.08% nickel and 18.1m at 1.37% nickel, respectively.
In addition, all nickel intersections were associated with copper, cobalt and significant platinum, palladium and gold, returning combined assays up to 51m at 0.44 grams per tonne platinum-palladium-gold, including 18.1m at 1.01g/t platinum-palladium-gold.
Ta Khoa development
Blackstone’s Ta Khoa project is located 160km west of Hanoi in the Son La Province of northern Vietnam.
Ban Phuc is a modern underground mine with an existing 450,000 tonne-per-annum processing facility. It was commissioned in 2013 but was placed on care and maintenance in 2016 due to falling nickel prices.
Blackstone has drilled more than 4,500m of diamond core in over 24 holes at Ban Phuc since May 2019 and is well advanced with an initial scoping study evaluating mining and processing options including potential local downstream processing to deliver high value nickel sulphate into Asia’s growing electric vehicle market.
Today’s news follows the company’s announcement earlier this month that it had inked an alliance with Korean battery maker Ecopro BM Co Limited to develop this downstream processing facility.
Blackstone is also aiming to deliver a maiden resource on the Ban Phuc disseminated sulphides “over the coming months” and said it will investigate the potential to restart the existing Ban Phuc concentrator through focused exploration on both the massive sulphide vein and disseminated sulphide deposits.
By afternoon trade, Blackstone shares were sitting 8.7% higher at $0.125.