Special Report: Blackstone has expanded its nickel exploration efforts in Vietnam with the start of high-impact drilling at the Ta Cuong prospect within the Ta Khoa project.
Drilling at Ta Cuong, which is 6km along strike from the recently discovered Ban Chang prospect, will use electromagnetic (EM) plates to test new massive sulphide vein (MSV) targets.
Blackstone Minerals (ASX:BSX) said the new target is proximal to a major regional structure that is close to the Ban Phuc and Ban Chang prospects.
While historical drilling returned hits like 0.6m at 1.95 per cent nickel and 4.47 per cent copper and 2.55m at 1.43 per cent nickel and 0.86 per cent copper, these did not target geophysical anomalies, an oversight the company plans to address.
A series of drill holes completed at Ta Cuong in 2016 also resulted in the discovery of a 130m strike of gossan assaying 0.48 per cent nickel and 0.54 per cent copper, adjacent to the mapped ultramafic body.
“Based on geological similarities and now with some exciting EM plates to target, we believe it has the potential to deliver similar results to Ban Chang and Ban Phuc,” managing director Scott Williamson said.
“We continue to systematically test our 25 MSV prospects and with our in-house geophysics crew and Blackstone-owned drill rigs, we can cost effectively explore this globally significant nickel sulphide district using modern geophysical techniques.
“We see potential to increase future annual nickel production from the Ta Khoa nickel-copper-PGE project through targeting high-grade MSV to complement the base load nickel sulphide feed from the bulk open pit mining scenario we are currently modelling at Ban Phuc and King Cobra.”
Nickel exploration with an eye on the battery sector
The company’s move to drill at Ta Cuong comes after maiden drilling at the Ban Chang prospect intersected high-grade massive sulphide nickel over a 1.2km strike.
This included a notable hit of 9.6m at 0.84 per cent nickel, 0.73 per cent copper, 0.5 per cent cobalt and 0.7 per cent platinum group metals from 57m.
Blackstone is focused on delivering a maiden resource for Ta Khoa in the current quarter with an initial focus on the disseminated sulphides (DSS) at Ban Phuc.
The company has started a scoping study on the downstream processing facility and has started metallurgical testing on the Ban Phuc DSS deposit with the aim of developing a flow sheet for a product suitable for the lithium-ion battery industry.
Blackstone will also investigate the potential to develop processing infrastructure in Vietnam to produce a downstream nickel and cobalt product.
This article was developed in collaboration with Blackstone Minerals, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.
This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.
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Barry Stroman was a reporter for Zerg Watch, before becoming the lead editor. Barry has previously worked for Wired, MacWorld, PCWorld, and VentureBeat covering countless stories concerning all things related to tech and science. Barry studied at NYU.