Blackstone Minerals (ASX: BSX) has commenced exploration at the newly-generated Ta Cuong massive sulphide vein (MSV) prospect at the Ta Khoa nickel-copper-platinum group elements project in Vietnam.
Ta Cuong is located 6km along strike from the Ban Chang prospect and is proximal to a major regional structure close to Ban Chang and the flagship Ban Phuc orebody.
Blackstone’s geophysics crew recently generated a 1.2km-long massive sulphide target at Ban Chang within a 12km long district-scale exploration corridor, which it will continue to drill test over the coming months.
The company is targeting prospects similar to the previously-mined Ban Phuc MSV, where historic owners pulled 975,000 tonnes over three and a half years from an average vein width of 1.3m with average grades of 2.4% nickel and 1% copper.
Ta Cuong is analogous to the recently-drilled Ban Chang prospect and Ban Phuc, where the company has already delivered the King Cobra discovery zone and delineated a maiden disseminated mineralisation resource (DSS).
Blackstone managing director Scott Williamson said electromagnetic techniques will be used to refine new targets for high-impact drilling at Ta Cuong.
“Based on geological similarities and historical results, we believe this prospect has the potential to deliver similar results to Ban Chang,” he said.
“We anticipate the geophysics to better define drill targets, which we will immediately follow up with drilling.”
Ta Cuong is the second high-priority prospect within a portfolio of 25 MSV prospects scheduled for testing over the coming months.
“We will continue to systematically test these prospects using our own drill rigs, [and we believe] we can cost effectively explore this globally-significant nickel sulphide district using modern geophysical techniques,” Mr Williamson said.
“We see potential to increase annual nickel production from the Ta Khoa project through the targeting of high‐grade MSV to complement the base load nickel sulphide feed to be potentially mined from the Ban Phuc DSS and the King Cobra discovery zone,” he added.
Blackstone aims to deliver a maiden resource for Ta Khoa later this year, with a view to restarting the existing Ban Phuc concentrator through focused exploration on MSV and DSS deposits.
A scoping study has begun for the project’s downstream processing facility, which it hopes will provide details for joint venture partners to formalise the next stage of investment.
The company has also commenced metallurgical testing on Ban Phuc ore and plans to investigate the development of downstream processing infrastructure in Vietnam to produce a nickel-cobalt product to supply Asia’s growing lithium-ion battery industry.