Blackstone Minerals (ASX: BSX) has debuted a positive scoping study for its flagship Ta Khoa nickel-copper-platinum group element project in Vietnam, which aims to produce a precursor nickel for Asia’s rapidly growing lithium-ion battery industry.
As well as revealing a positive scoping study, Blackstone also published a maiden resource for the Ban Phuc deposit of 44.3 million tonnes at 0.52% nickel for 229,000t of contained nickel in the indicated category. The maiden resource also has an inferred estimate of 14.3Mt at 0.35% nickel for 50,000t of contained metal.
Following the positive scoping study, Blackstone has now started the next phase of pre-feasibility work for the project where its strategy is to build a mine to market nickel business and service Asia’s lithium-ion battery sector.
Blackstone managing director Scott Williamson noted there were “multiple upside opportunities” to improve on the scoping study including maximising economics, minimising environmental and social impacts and offering a lasting legacy to the project’s nearby Vietnamese communities.
“Whilst we are pleased with the outcomes of this study, we will continue to expand our resource and increase our production potential in this exciting and yet under-explored region of Vietnam and have commenced work on pre-feasibility level studies for the project,” Mr Williamson added.
Scoping study results
The study for Ta Khoa estimates a pre-production capital cost of US$314 million to build an 8.5-year operation that would produce about 12,700t of nickel annually.
Gross revenue of about US$3.3 billion has been predicted over the mine life to produce around US$1.2 billion in pre-tax cash flow.
This equates to annual pre-tax cash flow of US$179 million.
Capital payback is forecast to occur within 2.5 years.
Blackstone expects to process its ore further to create a nickel-cobalt-manganese precursor product which will command a much higher price.
Upside opportunities identified within the study include staged capital expenditure, and by-product credits from copper, gold, platinum, palladium and rhodium.
Additional upside has also been noted in the King Cobra discovery zone, Ban Chang, Ta Cuong and the remaining 25 untested massive sulphide vein targets across the project.