Blackstone continues to build relationships with key technology and off-take partners through alignment of Ta Khoa Project development strategy and execution schedule.

Blackstone Minerals Limited ("Blackstone" or the "Company") is pleased to advise that the Ta Khoa Project development shall be accelerated following strategy meetings with prospective technology and off-take partners (“the Partners”). The accelerated strategy will be achieved through the following critical activities:

1. Partnerships: engagement with the Partners to reach a final JV structure and investment contribution.

2. Staged development: supported by Wood, evaluation of staged development options, including a start-up scenario which would limit upfront capital, and improve the development schedule.

3. Infrastructure: review of key project infrastructure and its impact on feed stock and product logistics, in collaboration with community stakeholders.

4. Prioritisation: reduction in monthly spend to focus on flowsheet test work, piloting, permitting and approvals. Non-schedule critical items will be delayed to conserve funding.

Partnerships

The Ta Khoa Project (“TKP”) development strategy was discussed at length during a recent Ban Phuc Nickel Mine (“BPNM”) and Ta Khoa Refinery (“TKR”) site visit which included representatives from prospective partners. The purpose of the visit was to inspect the existing BPNM operation, the proposed TKR site, as well as discussions pertaining to project partnership structures, investment strategy and development timelines

The site visit concluded with formal meetings with various government representatives including the Vice Chairman and Senior Officers of the Son La Peoples’ Committee (“SLPC”), the Director of the Department of the Son La Natural Resources and Environment (“DONRE”), and Vice Director of the Son La Department of Industry and Trade (“DOIT”), as well as representatives from the Australian embassy. Representatives of Korean Development Bank (“KDB”) attended to present outcomes of financing discussions, including options for obtaining export credit agency support.

Blackstone and its prospective partners agreed to continue working towards a binding partnership agreement targeting execution by the end of the year.

Staged Development

With assistance from Wood, Blackstone are exploring staged development options to minimise the TKR upfront capital and identify the shortest pathway to project cashflows. The TKR Definitive Feasibility Study (“DFS”) process design and flowsheet optimisation is complete, which allows Blackstone to quickly assess multiple development options and identify preferred scenarios for further development. A key development of the process design is that the TKR is feedstock agnostic. Not only will it be able to accept a range of nickel concentrate specifications, but it will also be able to accept nickel matte and Mixed Hydroxide Precipitate (“MHP”), so long as the feed sources meet Blackstone’s ESG standards. This greatly improves Blackstone’s ability to source and secure third-party feed and has opened up additional development scenarios for TKR. Some staged development options under consideration include:

  • Early operation of the existing Ban Phuc concentrator to treat Massive Sulfide Vein (“MSV”) ore from Ban Chang and King Snake to produce a saleable concentrate
  • TKR start-up on 100% third-party feed sources including concentrate, matte and MHP, with the Ta Khoa Nickel mine (“TKN”) to be funded out of operating cashflow
  • Reduced size refinery start up, with subsequent expansion(s) funded out of operating cashflow

Infrastructure

Logistics and infrastructure reviews have commenced to confirm project footprint requirements that mitigate key risks. The DFS process design has identified potential to separate infrastructure for production of precursor Cathode Active Material (“pCAM”) from the remaining refinery infrastructure, which allows Blackstone to consider location of the pCAM facility closer to port and customer infrastructure.

Prioritisation

Blackstone will be prioritising all activity to focus on schedule critical path items while limiting spend in this current market environment. Progress on partnerships, permitting, metallurgical testwork and piloting will continue but other non-time critical activities will be assessed in relation to the overall project development strategy.

Permitting Update

Vietnam’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (“MONRE”) has extended the BPNM Mining Licence until December 2025. In addition, Blackstone has commenced the process to convert the Ta Khoa Exploration Licence area consisting of 35km2 which contains the Ban Phuc Disseminated Sulfide (“DSS”) Probable Reserve (48.7Mt at 0.43% Ni, and 210kt of contained nickel1) to an open pit Mining Licence covering 7.6 km2.

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This article includes content from Blackstone Minerals Limited , licensed for the purpose of publishing on Investing News Australia. This article does not constitute financial product advice. It is your responsibility to perform proper due diligence before acting upon any information provided here. Please refer to our full disclaimer here.

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