Blackstone Minerals is pleased to announce the completion of the PFS for the development of a Downstream Refinery in Northern Vietnam.

Downstream Pre-feasibility Study (PFS) confirms technically and economically robust hydrometallurgical refining process to upgrade nickel sulfide concentrate to produce battery grade Nickel: Cobalt: Manganese (NCM) 811 Precursor for the Lithium-ion battery industry.

Valuation Outcomes

  1. Base Case
    Post-tax NPV8 of US$2.01bn and internal rate of return (IRR) of 67%
  2. Spot Case
    Post-tax NPV8 of US$3.51bn and internal rate of return (IRR) of 98%

Base Case Economics

  • Upfront Project Capital of US$491m paid back in 1.5 years from first production
  • Life-of-Operations revenue of US$14.0bn and operating cash flow of US$4.5bn
  • Average annual operating cash flow of US$451m
  • Average annual post-tax cash flow of US$365m
  • Life-of-operations All-in Cost of US$11,997/ t NCM811 as compared to study weighted average forecast price on sale of NCM811 of US$16,397/ t NCM811 and current Shanghai Metals Market (SMM) spot price of US$19,559/t NCM811

Base Case Physicals

  • Refinery capacity of 400ktpa
  • 10-year life-of-Operations aligned with the Ban Phuc Disseminated orebody and availability of known third party concentrate feed (3PF)
  • Average annual refined nickel output of 43.5ktpa
  • Average annual NCM811 Precursor Production of 85.6ktpa
  • First production currently targeted in 2024 and ramp up to steady state operations currently forecast to be achieved in CY 2026
  • 3.9Mt of concentrate feed with average Ni in concentrate grade of 11.5%, Co in concentrate grade of 0.3% and Cu in concentrate grade of 1.1%
  • Average annual copper by-product of 4.1ktpa

Blackstone Minerals (ASX:BSX, OTC:BLSTF) (“Blackstone” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce the completion of the PFS for the development of a Downstream Refinery in Northern Vietnam (“Ta Khoa Refinery Project”, “TKR” or the “Project”).

The PFS is a critical milestone for the Company and reiterates the competitive advantages of nickel sulfide projects and adding value via an integrated downstream processing strategy. The PFS demonstrates that a very low capital intensity is required for the TKR to produce Class I nickel at a scale that would make Blackstone a globally significant producer.

The PFS considers a refinery design to process up to 400ktpa (Base Case) of nickel concentrate, confirming a technically and economically robust flow sheet to upgrade nickel sulfide concentrate to produce battery grade NCM811 Precursor for the Lithium-ion battery industry.

Blackstone’s development strategy is supported by using 3PF to supplement nickel concentrate supply from the Ta Khoa Nickel Project. Concentrate feed from Blackstone’s Ban Phuc Disseminated Sulfide (DSS) orebody forms part of the overall concentrate blend. With ongoing drilling and further exploration success Blackstone believes the Base Case Refinery has the potential to be fed entirely by feedstock from the Ta Khoa Nickel Project.

The Company’s decision to proceed with the development of the Ta Khoa Refinery is contingent upon a number of factors including but not limited to future exploration success at Blackstone’s flagship Ta Khoa Mine, the ability to secure offtake for 3PF and consumer demand for battery grade NCM811 Precursor. Indicative quantum and concentrate specifications have been received from all 3PF concentrate Blackstone has included in this PFS for the Base Case TKR. Based on current and confidential discussions, BSX believes it can secure sufficient supply to meet the demand for the Base Case TKR.

The Company intends to develop and fund the construction of the TKR via a collaborative
partnership-based model. Blackstone’s intention is to retain a significant interest in the TKR and expects that its portion of funding will be met through a combination of debt, equity, and offtake financing.

Blackstone has commenced funding discussions with multiple potential partners, including NCM consumers and concentrate suppliers to jointly participate in the funding of the proposed refinery. Further, Blackstone has been approached by a number of financial advisors interested in supporting Blackstone’s funding strategy.
The Company is immediately progressing approval to commence the next phase of Definitive Feasibility Studies and pilot plant testing (in Vietnam) and is currently targeting a Final Investment Decision (FID) in CY2022.

Management Comment

Blackstone Managing Director Scott Williamson said the Company’s strategy to build a
downstream refinery in Vietnam is amid a very supportive ESG, macroeconomic and fiscal
backdrop. The electric vehicle revolution has accelerated demand for green nickelTM and the delivery of the PFS is an important milestone towards achieving Blackstone’s vision to integrate lithium-ion battery supply chains and enable a green solution from mine to consumer.

“The Base Case PFS financial outcomes are compelling based on an NCM811 Precursor price forecast that is conservative compared to current observable market rates. The internal rate of return on capital invested is exceptional for the Base Case, owing to very low capital intensity, a significant premium available when upgrading nickel sulfide concentrates into battery grade NCM811 Precursor and the competitive operating advantages in Vietnam, which include access to low-cost renewable hydro power.”

“Blackstone is very pleased by the level of collaboration with the Vietnamese Government to
progress the Company’s downstream refinery. As part of the PFS Blackstone completed a
location study to identify preferred Refinery locations, with each of the shortlisted potential
Refinery locations offering significant corporate tax incentives. The corporate tax incentives
offered are a strong signal for the Vietnamese Government support for Foreign Direct Investment and Blackstone’s downstream refinery strategy.”

“The Base Case Refinery represents Management’s view of the scale of operations that could over time, through exploration success, be supported by the Company’s existing nickel sulfide mineralised landholdings. Economics have been presented assuming a ten-year life-of operations, aligned with known and desired life-of-mine for 3PF concentrate sources that
Blackstone aims to secure offtake. Management considers the more likely scenario is that the Refinery life will extend beyond ten years.”

Read the full article here.

Click here to connect with Blackstone Minerals (ASX:BSX, OTC:BLSTF) for an Investor Presentation.

BSX:AU

Blackstone Minerals


Overview

Footage taken at our Ta Khoa Nickel-PGE Project in Northern Vietnam, January 2020.


Blackstone Minerals (ASX:BSX, OTCQX:BLSTF, FRA:B9S) is a leading battery and precious metals exploration and development company focused on the flagship Ta Khoa Nickel PGE (copper-cobalt) Sulfide Project, located 160 kilometers west of Hanoi in the Son La Province of Vietnam.

The Ta Khoa district and Ban Phuc mine represents a rare opportunity to invest in a premier, infrastructure advantaged, district scale, nickel PGE (copper-cobalt) sulfide project, with a downstream nickel sulfate value add opportunity, located in an emerging hub for electric vehicle lithium-ion battery manufacturing.

In light of recent Ta Khoa exploration success and driven by the strong indicative demand received for the Company's planned downstream products, the Company confirms an ongoing Pre-Feasibility Study (PFS) which is progressing designs for an expanded refinery to enable the production of a range of Nickel:Cobalt:Manganese (NCM) precursor products.

Additional projects within Blackstone's high-calibre portfolio of nickel sulfide, copper-gold-cobalt and gold projects in North America and Australia are being advanced for drill testing or joint venture, including the BC project (cobalt-gold) in Canada and the Silver Swan South project (gold-nickel) in Western Australia.

Company Highlights

  • Ta Khoa has infrastructure advantages via the existing Ban Phuc mine and processing facilities, and access to low-cost, underutilised hydroelectricity and a trained labour force
  • Ban Phuc is one of 25 nickel sulfide prospects in the highly prospective Blackstone-controlled Ta Khoa Nickel PGE (copper-cobalt) district, Son La Province, Vietnam
  • Targeting Q2 2020 for the delivery of the initial Joint-Ore Reserves Committee compliant resource for the Ban Phuc disseminated Nickel PGE (copper-cobalt) deposit
  • Advancing an independent scoping study evaluating development options for the Ban Phuc bulk mineable disseminated deposit and adjacent high-grade Nickel PGE (copper-cobalt) prospects
  • The objective is to produce a high-value nickel sulfate product for the lithium-ion EV battery manufacturing hub being developed in the port city of Hai Phong, where leading manufacturing companies have existing large-scale electronics manufacturing facilities
  • Funding secured to deliver a maiden resource and scoping study for the Ban Phuc disseminated nickel sulfide deposit, with approximately AU$4.95 million in treasury and access to an additional AU$2 million through a Controlled Placement Agreement (CPA) with Acuity Capital

Key Projects

Blackstone's 90 percent-owned Ta Khoa Nickel-PGE project is located 160 kilometers west of Hanoi in the Son La Province of Vietnam. It includes an existing modern nickel mine built to Australian Standards, currently under care and maintenance. The Ban Phuc nickel mine successfully operated as a mechanized underground nickel mine from 2013 to 2016.

Previous project owners invested more than US$136 million in capital and generated US$213 million in revenue during a three-and-a-half-year period of falling nickel prices. The project was placed into care and maintenance in mid-2016 during some of the lowest nickel prices in the past ten years.

Existing infrastructure associated with the project includes an internationally-designed 450ktpa processing plant connected to local hydro grid power with a fully-permitted tailings facility and a modern 250-person camp.

blackstone ta khoa aerial

Since commencing maiden drilling August 2019, Blackstone has made significant progress at Ta Khoa, drilling over 9,000 meters of diamond core in more than 47 holes into the Ban Phuc DSS deposit and the highly prospective King Cobra discovery zone.

An initial scoping study evaluating mining and processing options is well advanced, including potential in-country downstream processing to deliver high value nickel sulfate into Asia's rapidly expanding electric vehicle (EV) industry. The recently announced MOU with Asia's largest and the world's second largest, EV battery cathode manufacturer, Ecopro BM Co Limited represents a significant step toward making this a reality.

Blackstone's drilling of the Ban Phuc DSS to date includes the following significant results:

Drillhole From (m) To (m) Interval (m) Ni (%) Pt+Pd+Au (g/t)
BP19-02 106.6 124.4 17.8 1.00 0.74
incl. 106.6 114 7.4 1.36 1.10
BP19-03 56.5 102 45.5 1.20 0.35
BP19-06 101 128.7 27.7 0.88 0.74
incl. 108.5 122 13.5 1.12 0.91
BP19-08 140.6 170 29.4 1.00 0.60
incl. 140.6 146.9 6.3 1.22 1.03
BP19-09 107 118.95 12.0 1.46 1.09
incl. 108.2 117 8.8 1.70 1.28
BP19-10 136.9 170.2 33.3 0.80 0.37
incl. 137.5 152 14.5 1.31 0.65
BP19-07 310.9 375 64.4 0.52 0.20
incl. 310.9 327 15.6 1.08 0.58
BP19-11 109.4 161 51.5 0.50 0.22
incl. 116 124 8.0 1.09 0.66
BP19-14 215 321 106.0 0.45 0.20
BP19-22 79 108 29.0 0.60 0.39
incl. 81 94.4 13.4 0.82 0.72
BP19-23 173 224 51.0 0.71 0.43
incl. 187 203 15.7 1.48 1.14
BP19-29 32 91.8 59.8 1.29 0.29
incl. 49.1 63 13.9 2.25 0.54

Drilling underway at Ta Khoa, where four rigs are currently operational

King Cobra Discovery

Drilling at Blackstone's King Cobra discovery has delivered significant high-grade intersections, including 60 meters at 1.3 percent Nickel from 32 meters. It includes the first-ever intersection of massive sulfide vein and breccia styles of sulfide mineralisation within the Ban Phuc intrusion and may provide vectors towards the high grade 'feeder zone' mineralisation.

Plan View showing Ban Phuc DSS drill hole collar locations and King Cobra discovery zone

Plan View showing Ban Phuc DSS drill hole collar locations and King Cobra discovery zone (KCZ)Cross Section 49850E showing the King Cobra discovery hole BP19-23 and BP19-34 (See ASX announcement dated 20th January 2020 for full details)

Next Steps

Blackstone aims to deliver a maiden resource on the DSS at Ban Phuc over the coming months and investigate the potential to restart the existing Ban Phuc concentrator through focused exploration on both MSV and DSS deposits. Blackstone has commenced a scoping study on the downstream processing facility at Ta Khoa. The scoping study will provide detail for potential joint venture partners to formalise a binding agreement. Blackstone has commenced metallurgical testing on the Ban Phuc DSS deposit with an aim to develop a flow sheet for a product suitable for the lithium ion battery industry. In addition, Blackstone will investigate the potential to develop downstream processing infrastructure in Vietnam to produce a downstream nickel and cobalt product to supply Asia's growing lithium ion battery industry.

Core sample from Ta Khoa

Core sample from Ta Khoa

BC Copper-Gold-Cobalt Project

The BC Copper-Gold-Cobalt Project, formerly the Little Gem Project, is located 180 kilometers north of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The Project was discovered in the 1930s by prospectors identifying a pink cobalt-bloom on weathered mineralisation that led to three adits being developed. A total of 1,268 m of drilling was completed from underground and detailed channel sampling was taken from the adits. Blackstone acquired the BC Project in October 2017 and has since completed an extensive maiden exploration program including drilling, geochemical and geophysical surveys, with the initial results indicating potential for the project to host a world class Cobalt Belt in British Columbia.

blackstone project map showing minerals

blackstone jewel project survey

With the discovery of copper-gold-cobalt mineralisation at Erebor during the 2018 field season returning grades up to 2.3 percent cobalt, 32 g/t gold, 1.6 percent copper and 1.1 percent nickel combined with the multiple large-scale IP anomalies indicating the potential source of the high grade mineralisation at Little Gem, Erebor, Jewel and Roxey, the Company continues to unlock the potential for multiple deposits in a region with geology analogous to the Bou-Azzer primary Cobalt district in Morocco (more than 50 deposits and over 75 years of Cobalt production). Regional targets continue to be generated from the data collected through prospecting and stream sediment sampling across the entire 48 strike kilometer of untested geology prospective for further primary cobalt and gold mineralisation. Blackstone is actively seeking joint venture partners for the BC Project.

Silver Swan South Gold-Nickel Project

The Silver Swan South Project is along trend of the massive nickel sulfide Silver Swan Deposit (pre-mining ore reserve of 655 kilo-tonnes at 9.5 percent nickel) and associated deposits (pre-mining resource of 10.4 Mt at 1.0 percent nickel), and only 8 kilometers northeast of the major Kanowna Belle Gold Mine (+5 Moz gold endowment).

blackstone silver swan project

Highlights of the Project include:

  • Blackstone's second phase aircore drilling program at Silver Swan South intersected gold mineralisation and extensive basement geochemical anomalism at the Black Eagle prospect with the following result: 10 meters at 3.2 g/t gold from 68 meters within 15 meters at 2.2 g/t gold from 64 meters to EOH
  • The above results have significantly upgraded the Black Eagle prospect and, when combined with previous reconnaissance results of 3 meters at 3.5g/t gold from 60 meters sees Black Eagle elevated to a priority drill target.
  • The Silver Swan South project is located 8 kilometers along strike and encompasses the interpreted extension of the Fitzroy Shear Zone which hosts the Kanowna Belle Gold Mine (+5 Moz gold endowment);
  • Aircore drilling will also target the Black Hawk prospect following up on an initial 3 meters at 2.6 g/t gold from 52 meters intersected in the first phase of drilling at Silver Swan South.

Blackstone's initial drilling at Silver Swan South was targeting both gold, hosted by structural targets along strike from the Kanowna Belle Gold Mine (+5 Moz gold endowment), and nickel sulfide mineralisation associated with ultramafic units along strike from the Silver Swan and Black Swan Nickel Mines (combined endowment 166 kilo tonnes nickel metal). The initial programs were designed to test for basement hosted mineralisation, using air core drilling, to improve definition of gold and base metal anomalism identified by previous reconnaissance style drilling.

Management Team

Scott Williamson, Managing Director

Mining Engineer with a Commerce degree from the West Australian School of Mines and Curtin University, over 10 years of experience in technical and corporate roles in the mining and finance sectors.

Hamish Halliday, Non-Executive Chairman

Geologist with over 20 years of corporate and technical experience, founder of Adamus Resources Limited, an A$3M float which became a multi-million-ounce emerging gold producer.

Andrew Radonjic, Technical Director

Mine Geologist and Mineral Economist with over 25 years of experience with a focus on gold and nickel exploration, instrumental in three significant gold discoveries north of Kalgoorlie, Executive Director of Venture Minerals Limited and co-lead the discovery of the Mount Lindsay Tin-Tungsten-Magnetite deposits.

Steve Parsons, Non-Executive Director

Geologist with corporate and technical experience, a proven track record of mineral discoveries, corporate growth, international investor relations and creating shareholder wealth, founding MD of Gryphon Minerals Ltd which became an ASX 200 company with a multi-million-ounce gold discovery in West Africa.

Michael Naylor, Joint Company Secretary

A chartered accountant with over 20 years of experience in corporate advisory and public company management, previously an Executive Director and/or Company Secretary of two highly successful battery metal resource companies located in Australia and Canada. Executive Director and Company Secretary of Bellevue Gold Ltd (ASX:BGL) currently growing a multi-million-ounce gold discovery in WA.

Jamie Byrde – Joint Company Secretary

Chartered Accountant with over 14 years of experience in accounting, company secretarial and corporate advisory roles specializing in Financial Accounting and Reporting and Corporate Governance, currently the Company Secretary for Venture Minerals Limited and Alicanto Minerals Limited.

Dr. Stuart Owen – Exploration Manager

BSc & PhD in Geology with over 20 years of experience in mineral exploration, Senior Geologist in the team that discovered the Paulsens Mine (+1Moz) and as an Exploration Manager at Adamus discovered the Southern Ashanti Gold deposits (+2Moz) and at Venture discovered the Mt Lindsay TinTungsten-Magnetite deposits.

Andrew Strickland – Head of Project Development

Andrew Strickland will lead development of Ta Khoa. He is an experienced Study and Project Manager, a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, University of WA MBA graduate, with undergraduate degrees in Chemical Engineering and Extractive Metallurgy from Curtin and the West Australian School of Mines.

Previously, Andrew Strickland was Senior Study Manager for GR Engineering Services Limited, where he was responsible for delivering a series of Scoping and Feasibility Studies for Australian and international projects.

Andrew Strickland has a history of developing mining & metals projects across different commodities and jurisdictions as well as a broad understanding and experience in minerals processing, project management and corporate strategy.

Richard Kitchener – General Manager – Operations

As General Manager Operations, Richard Kitchener will lead, plan and execute all operational activity to ensure a smooth transition into production. Richard Kitchener was Mining and Geology Manager at Masan Group's Nui Phao Mine in Northern Vietnam for the past 10 years, responsible for the development of systems and procedures and negotiation of all contracts during the development and operation of the Nui Phao Mine.

Other previous roles include the position of General Manager Operations at Swan Gold Mining in Australia and General Manager of Operations at Ban Phuc Nickel Mines, Blackstone's now renamed Ta Khoa Project. Richard Kitchener holds a Bachelor of Engineering from Camborne School of Mines.

Steve Ennor – General Manager – Project Development

Steve Ennor, the General Manager Project Development, will manage the transition of the processing facilities from construction to operational readiness. Steve Ennor is a metallurgist with 30 years of experience in gold and base metals processing, including senior management and operational positions in Australia, Africa and South East Asia.

Steve Ennor commenced as the Ban Phuc Nickel Project Development Manager in 2010 and managed project development, plant design and construction into 2012 before transitioning to Metallurgy Manager.

Steve Ennor holds a Diploma in Metallurgy Engineering and is a member of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy.

Vũ Hồng Cấm Vân – General Manager – Commercial

Vũ Hồng Cấm Vân will act as General Manager Commercial and will be responsible for managing all business and financials, external affairs and communications in Vietnam relating to the Ta Khoa Project in conjunction with the General Manager Operations and General Manager Project Development.

Vũ Hồng Cấm Vân joined Ban Phuc Nickel Mines in 2006 and has successfully performed in several roles transitioning from senior environment officer to HSE & CSR manager and government affairs director.

Vũ Hồng Cấm Vân holds a BSc in Environment Management from the Ha Noi National University and MSc in Climate Change from the Ha Noi National University.

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