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.
- 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
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.
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)|
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 (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)
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
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.
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).
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.
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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