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Blackstone Intersects 60m @ 1.3 Percent Nickel from 32m in King Cobra Discovery Drill Hole

Blackstone Minerals Limited (ASX:BSX) is pleased to announce that drilling at the King Cobra discovery has intersected 60m @ 1.3% Nickel from 32m at the Ta Khoa Nickel Project in Northern Vietnam.

Highlights:

▪ Blackstone’s drilling at the King Cobra discovery has intersected 60m @ 1.3% Nickel from 32m including 13.9m @ 2.25% Nickel from 49m (Figures 1 & 2 and Tables 1 & 2 for full details);
▪ Blackstone’s drillhole BP19-03 which returned 45m @ 1.2% Nickel from 56m is now interpreted as an earlier intersection of King Cobra mineralisation (see ASX announcement dated 6th August 2019 & 17th September 2019 for full details);
▪ Blackstone’s drilling has now intersected the King Cobra (KCZ) discovery zone over 200m of strike length, with the KCZ interpreted to be open along strike to the north west and south east and down dip to the north east (see Figure 1);
▪ Assay results are reported in this announcement for six new drill holes (see Table 1 for drillhole results for BP19-25 to BP19-30) all returning significant intersections of nickel mineralisation;
▪ Hole BP19-29 returned the most significant downhole intersections seen to date at the Ta Khoa Nickel Project, with 60m @ 1.3% Nickel including 13.9m @ 2.25% Nickel from the King Cobra Zone, and 142m @ 0.41% Nickel including 11.9m @ 1.09% Nickel from the underlying previously unnamed Ban Duoi Zone (BDZ);
▪ Blackstone is continuing its aggressive drilling program at Ban Phuc with four drill rigs testing the disseminated mineralisation (DSS), including two rigs on priority step-out drilling testing for potentially significant expansions to the known Ban Phuc DSS orebody and the down dip feeder zone target at the King Cobra target zone (see Figure 1);

Blackstone Mineral’s Managing Director Scott Williamson commented:

“Blackstone is pleased to announce the King Cobra discovery hole as our most significant drillhole to date at the Ta Khoa Nickel Project. The King Cobra discovery continues to grow, as does our understanding of the geology of the Ban Phuc deposit. The King Cobra discovery is shaping up to be a high grade, near surface, large scale disseminated Nickel-PGE zone that has potential to deliver a highly economic starter pit at Ta Khoa.”

Click here for the full press release.

Blackstone Minerals Limited (ASX:BSX) is pleased to announce that drilling at the King Cobra discovery has intersected 60m @ 1.3% Nickel from 32m at the Ta Khoa Nickel Project in Northern Vietnam. The King Cobra discovery is a new, near surface, high grade zone of nickel sulfide bearing semi-massive sulfide veins (SMSV) at the Ta Khoa Nickel Project (see Figure 8). The King Cobra discovery 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 (see Figure 6 for magmatic nickel sulfide model).

Since announcing the option agreement in May 2019, Blackstone has made significant progress at the Ta Khoa Nickel-PGE Project, drilling over 9,000m of diamond core in more than 47 holes into the Ban Phuc DSS deposit and King Cobra discovery zone. Blackstone is well advanced with an initial scoping study evaluating mining and processing options, 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 (see ASX announcement dated 2nd December 2019) 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.

Initial geological modelling of Blackstone’s drilling, combined with over 60,000m in 381 holes drilled by the previous owners of the project, is starting to reveal the potential extents of the Ban Phuc DSS Nickel – PGE deposit (see Figure 1). Currently the disseminated mineralisation has been encountered in drill holes over 1,000m by 500m in area and remains open along strike to the north west and south east and down dip to the north east.

The ultimate geometry of the disseminated Nickel – PGE layers in the deposit are yet to be fully defined by drilling, however the following preliminary observations and interpretations are being used to guide further exploration of the deposit.
▪ The previously reported Blackstone drillhole BP19-03 is now interpreted as an intersection of King Cobra mineralisation which assayed 45m @ 1.2% Nickel from 56m (see ASX announcement dated 6th August 2019 & 17th September 2019 for full details);
▪ The combination of the assay results from holes BP19-03 and BP19-29 and geological observations from recent holes BP20-03 and BP20-04 (see Figure 5), where assays are pending, suggest that KCZ can now be traced in drilling over 200m and is open along strike to the north west and south east (see Figure 1). The KCZ is also open down dip to the north east (see Figures 2 and 3), however it maybe locally closed off near surface in the area of hole BP19-44 by a post mineral fault;
▪ Drilling to date at Ban Phuc has identified two thick, overlying sheet-like zones of disseminated Nickel PGE (Cu Co) mineralisation, the KCZ and the underlying Zone here named the BDZ, are hosted within the Ban Phuc ultramafic intrusive. The KCZ and BDZ converge and dip to the north east.
▪ The KCZ and BDZ appear to have different nickel and PGE contents. KCZ is hosted by a textually distinct phase of the Ban Phuc intrusive with the margins of the KCZ locally marked by an “tremolite” contact zone (see Figure 2) that may define the contact of a distinct phase of the Ban Phuc intrusive body.
▪ Previous interpretations proposed that Ban Phuc mineralisation is a folded sheet-like body that is closed off to the north east. However, an alternate interpretation arising from the recent Blackstone drilling is that the KCZ and BDZ are distinct phases of mineralisation related to different intrusive pulses and that together they vector down dip to the north east toward a potentially higher grade “feeder zone”.
▪ The ‘feeder zone’ target is currently being tested with two rigs that are drilling a series of new holes to test this concept.

Preliminary interpretations and drill results are also revealing several encouraging characteristics (see Figures 2, 3 & 4) that suggest the potential for a large tonnage disseminated sulfide deposit at Ban Phuc. These factors may make the deposit amenable to bulk mining techniques employed at large scale nickel mines in Australia and elsewhere in the world. The Ban Phuc DSS deposit’s characteristics supporting this concept include:

• Thick accumulations of nickel sulfide mineralisation across a significant area of the Ban Phuc ultramafic body (see table above of Blackstone’s drill intersections to date);
• Multiple stacked layers of disseminated mineralisation hosting higher grade intervals;
• King Cobra zone, hosting thick accumulations of nickel sulfide, in the near surface;
• Significant concentrations of precious metals – palladium, platinum and gold – in all drilling to date from the deposit.

Blackstone’s Ta Khoa Nickel–PGE project has a combination of large DSS nickel targets and 25 other prospects (see Figure 7), including multiple high grade massive sulfide vein (MSV) targets of the style that were mined adjacent to the current Ban Phuc DSS drilling. The Ban Phuc Nickel mine operated for 3.5 years between 2013 and 2016, producing 20.7kt Ni, 10.1kt Cu and 0.67kt Co, before closing when the defined mineable reserves were depleted. The high grade Ban Phuc MSV is located less than 50m to the south of the Ban Phuc DSS deposit and remains underexplored at depths below the base of previous mining. Many other MSV targets are within potential trucking distance of the existing
450ktpa Ban Phuc processing facility that was built to international standards, commissioned in 2013, and has been on care and maintenance since 2016.

Blackstone is evaluating near mine MSV and other potential DSS targets for drill testing during the 2020 season, with the concept of identifying high grade and further disseminated mineralisation for either an early restart of the Ban Phuc mining operation, or the potential to blend higher grade MSV mineralisation with the larger tonnage DSS mineralisation for processing.

Blackstone believes that the Ta Khoa project represents a true district scale Nickel-PGE sulfide opportunity of a calibre rarely controlled by a junior company. The project also has significant infrastructure advantages that include the existing 450ktpa processing facility, abundant low cost hydroelectric power, a skilled low-cost labour force, and is located in a country that has become an Asian hub for electronics and battery manufacturing with a growing demand for Nickel Sulfate for EV battery manufacture.

Blackstone looks forward to reporting further results from the King Cobra discovery and the ongoing drill out at Ban Phuc over the coming weeks, as the company advances the exploration and evaluation of this high calibre asset for its shareholders.

Click here for the full press release.

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Perth, Australia – Classic Minerals Limited has made significant progress at Kat Gap during the quarter as it strives to become a gold producer. Highlights of the quarter include: – Assay results returned for infill RC drilling testing the gap between oxide and deeper fresh rock high-grade gold mineralisation at Kat Gap. – Advancing engineering, mining and metallurgical studies at Kat Gap, and – IGO have made …

Perth, Australia (ABN Newswire) – Classic Minerals Limited (ASX:CLZ) has made significant progress at Kat Gap during the quarter as it strives to become a gold producer.

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Perth, Australia – Classic Minerals Limited is pleased to announce that, in accordance with the terms of its Earn In and Joint Venture Agreement with IGO Newsearch Pty Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of IGO Limited IGO has notified Classic of: its election to acquire a 51% interest in the Company’s Fraser Range tenements having earnt that interest by spending $1,500,000 on exploration of the Tenements; and its …

Perth, Australia (ABN Newswire) – Classic Minerals Limited (ASX:CLZ) (the Company or Classic) is pleased to announce that, in accordance with the terms of its Earn In and Joint Venture Agreement (Agreement) with IGO Newsearch Pty Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of IGO Limited (ASX:IGO) (together, IGO) (CLZ announcement to ASX dated 17 June 2019 refers), IGO has notified Classic of:

(a) its election to acquire a 51% interest in the Company’s Fraser Range tenements (Tenements), having earnt that interest by spending $1,500,000 on exploration of the Tenements; and

(b) its intention to spend a further $1,000,000 exploring the Tenements over the next 2 years to take its joint venture interest to 70%.

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The mining and resources sector now sets its sights on Australia’s largest mining investment forum, Mines and Money @ IMARC, co-located with IMARC from January 31, 2022, to February 2, 2022, at the Melbourne Showgrounds.

It was gold price, lithium demand and China’s appetite for copper that dominated much of the discussion at Mines and Money Online Connect @ IMARC this week at the virtual event running from the 19th to the 21st October.

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Sydney Opera House at night

Robotics is an area of investing that is growing in Australia ― but is it a sector worth investing in?

The global robotics industry is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 7.8 percent through 2028 according to the Global Industrial Robotics Market Analysis 2020. Robotics is an area of investing that is growing in Australia ― but is it a sector worth investing in?

Broadly speaking, robotics is the design and construction of robots. This can include core automation and production, industrial software, robot technology and integration of robotics. From drones to self-driving cars to toys ― robotics is a growing industry that is beginning to permeate our daily lives.


The distinction between robotics and AI can be a little confusing, but essentially think of robotics like the body and AI like the brain. Both can exist separately, and they are powerful when combined. The goal of a robot is to complete a task faster and more efficiently than a human.

What does the market look like?

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen technology sectors such as robotics accelerate as businesses have faced global challenges. Robotics has been able to help keep spaces safer by replacing humans with robots on factory lines, in eCommerce warehouses or on healthcare frontlines taking temperatures or disinfecting spaces.

What is Australia doing to support the robotics sector?

In early 2020, the Robotics Australia Network was formed to accelerate growth of the domestic robotics industry. The network aims to strengthen global competitiveness and cement Australia as a global leader in robotics.

How does the Australian robotics sector stack up?

According to the International Federation of Robotics, in a ranking of the world's most automated countries it's not even in the top 10. Number one is Singapore, followed by South Korea then Japan.

The investment space for pure robotics companies is relatively small, with greater opportunities to invest in more broader technology, AI and automation stocks.

Who are the big players in robotics stocks?

Robotics stocks in Australia are companies with a strong crossover to other technology sectors like artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

Vection Technologies (ASX:VR1)
Market Cap AU$77.56 million

Vection is a multinational software company with offices in Western Australia as well as Subiaco and Casalecchio di Reno in Italy. The company uses robotics technology as well as 3D, virtual reality, augmented reality, industrial IoT and CAD solutions. The business is split into two sections: IT development and outsourced services. The company also collaborates with Autodesk Technology Centers, the Microsoft Mixed Reality Team and Cisco Systems Italy.

Bill Identity (ASX:BID)

Market Cap AU$52.97 million

Previously known as BidEnergy, Bill Identity is a series of bill management solutions leveraged using robotic process automation, which helps clients increase efficiency. The company serves customers across Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the US and Europe. Bill Identity had a strong year, with total operating revenue growth of 55 percent year-on-year to US$14.6M in FY21.

What are the other ways to invest in robotics?

Another way to get into the robotics sector is investing in robotics exchange traded funds (ETFs), a popular choice that offers exposure to the industry of robotics and artificial intelligence rather than a single company. Two major ETFs in the robotics sector are:

  • BetaShares Global Robotics and Artificial Intelligence ETF (ASX:RBTZ)
  • The ROBO Global Robotics and Automation ETF (ARCA:ROBO)

Don't forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Ronelle Richards, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

kangaroos in front of the sunrise

Silver is on the rise in Australia, with new silver mines opening, production potential booming and the precious metal's valuation reaching new heights.

Analysts have been bullish on gold for the better part of the past decade, but now it's silver's time to shine. While the price of silver tends to rise and fall alongside that of gold, silver's valuation is generally more volatile — slower to move in either direction, but more prone to abrupt spikes and plunges.

Considering the market's longtime gold rush, silver is due for a major price hike. In 2020, silver hit a seven year high with 27 percent year-over-year growth, climbing faster than gold. Silver was on the rise again in February 2021, bolstered by WallStreetBets fervour. Though prices have stabilised since, they remain elevated compared to the past decade. Additionally, at only a fraction of gold's valuation, silver is a much more attainable buy.

Shrewd investors are looking to Australia for their silver picks. A country whose silver mines continued to flourish even when most of the world was in a precious metal slump, Australia has emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic as a major player in the global silver market.


A look at Australia and silver mining

When you think of mining in Australia, you may not think of silver, especially since the country is a top global producer of several other metals, including gold and iron ore. Nevertheless, silver is on the rise in Australia, with new silver mines opening, production potential booming and the precious metal's valuation reaching new heights.

This may be surprising news, especially since 2020 was an erratic year for silver. Global silver-mining production plunged by 5.9 percent in 2020 — its biggest drop in over 10 years —⁠ following four years of steady decline.

Output from primary silver mines plummeted by 11.9 percent year-over-year, while silver by-product suffered a more modest drop, with production from gold and lead-⁠zinc mines falling by 5.7 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively. Note that silver is largely produced as a by-product of other metal-mining processes, with 72 percent of silver production taking place at non-silver mines.

This production downturn was the result of COVID-19 restrictions that forced mines to suspend operations temporarily. Silver mine closures hit certain places harder than others, with extended closures in top silver-producing countries such as Peru, Mexico, Argentina and Bolivia causing major production drops.

Australia, however, was an exception to this rule, with production increasing by 3 percent. The reason for Australia's success is that it remained relatively untouched by COVID-19 restrictions. While other countries were forced to shut down production facilities, Australia was able to avoid these closures, continuing — and even upgrading — regular operations.

Australia is now the fifth largest silver producer globally, with an annual output of 43.8 million ounces in 2020. While the output of silver-mining giants such as Mexico and Peru (178.1 million and 109.7 million ounces produced in 2020, respectively) continues to far exceed that of Australia, global demand for silver is on the rise, hitting 900 million ounces annually and making room for a new silver-mining powerhouse.

What should investors know about silver investing in Australia?

Silver remains a relatively untapped resource in Australia, which means that investors have plenty of major mining companies to choose from.

Australia's largest mine is the Cannington mine owned by South32 (ASX:S32,OTC Pink:SHTLF). It is ranked as the ninth largest silver-producing mine worldwide, with 11.6 million ounces produced in 2020.

The country's second biggest silver-producing mine is the Mount Isa zinc mine. It is owned by Mount Isa Mines, a subsidiary of Glencore (LSE:GLEN,OTC Pink:GLCNF), and produced around 5.8 million ounces of silver in 2020. The Tritton copper mine, owned by Aeris Resources (ASX:AIS,OTC Pink:ARSRF), followed closely behind with nearly 4.5 million ounces produced in the same year.

Other notable Australian silver mines include the Golden Grove mine, which is owned by 29Metals (ASX:29M), and the Dugald River mine, which is owned by Metallic Minerals (ASX:MMG,TSXV:MMG,OTCQB:MMNGF). In 2020, these mines produced around 2.9 million and 2 million ounces of silver, respectively.

Australia's impressive silver-mining industry is well-positioned for further expansion, with Silver Mines (ASX:SVL,OTC Pink:SLVMF) planning to launch its Bowden silver project in 2023. This New South Wales-based silver mine is projected to produce around 6 million ounces of silver annually, which would make it the country's new second largest producer. The company hopes to capitalise on the promising solar panel market, which currently accounts for about 5.5 percent of all silver demand worldwide.

Moreover, Australian company Thomson Resources (ASX:TMZ,OTC Pink:TMZRF) bought the New South Wales-based Webb and Conrad silver projects from Silver Mines earlier this year in a transaction worth around US$8.6 million. The deal closed on March 31, and will enable Silver Mines to concentrate on its flagship Bowden project.

Investing in silver in Australia

There are many ways to invest in silver, including physical silver, stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, options and futures. Choosing which investment route to take is all about balancing risk and reward.

Investing in physical silver is the most straightforward option: you simply buy a tangible piece of the precious metal in the form of bullion, official coins or medallions. Bullion is a bar or 1 ounce coin of solid silver with at least 99.9 percent purity. Official silver coins are currency produced by a government mint, while silver medallions resemble coins, but lack monetary value, .

The price of physical silver rises and falls alongside the metal's market value. Physical silver is a relatively safe investment, since its value can't be affected by third-party interference or bad business practices (risks characteristic of mining stocks). However, if you plan to trade often, the added costs of buying, selling and storing physical silver may make the investment not worth your while.

Investments in physical silver rose by 8 percent last year, boosted by silver's status as a safe asset and market bullishness on gold. In Australia, coins and medals fabrication increased by 35 percent year-over-year, making physical silver a smart choice for any risk-averse investor.

Of course, low risk often means low reward. If you're looking for a bigger payday, consider investing in silver-mining stocks instead. After all, when silver's market price goes up, it is often the case that the value of a mining stock could spike far higher than that of the physical metal. The disadvantage is that mining stocks are always risky — even when the silver market is strong, a mining endeavour can fail to pan out.

ETFs offer investors the best of both worlds. ETFs are a basket of varied equities, including physical metals and shares in mining companies. Much like individual stocks, they are liable to rise or fall in price according to the market, though they tend to be less risky than stocks.

In 2020, ETF investments were at an all-time-high, though Australia only has one silver ETF that includes the physical precious metal. Stocks are a much more common means of investing in silver in Australia. The country boasts over a dozen silver-mining companies, including South32 and Silver Mines, as well as Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM,TSX:NCM,OTC Pink:NCMGF), Golden Deeps (ASX:GED) and Investigator Resources (ASX:IVR).

Don't forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time news updates.

Securities Disclosure: I, Isabel Armiento, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.