ASX-listed base metals hopeful, Blackstone Minerals, continues to put runs on the board in northern Vietnam as its company-owned drill rigs continue their run of stellar success at the Ban Chang deposit within the Ta Khoa nickel-copper-PGM project with more lucrative looking sulphide nickel mineralisation presenting itself. Blackstone is chasing massive sulphide veins at Ban Chang that are similar to its nearby Ban Phuc deposit.
Previous owners at Ban Phuc produced 20,700t of nickel, 10,100t of copper and 67,000t of cobalt from 975,000t of ore grading an average of 2.4 per cent nickel and one per cent copper between 2013 and 2016.
The average vein width was 1.3m.
Blackstone’s latest drill campaign at Ban Chang returned a best intersection of 4.1m going 0.92 per cent nickel, 0.69 per cent copper, 0.05 per cent cobalt and 0.26 grams per tonne PGMs from 85.9m.
Other notable previously announced results include 5.2m at 0.66 per cent nickel, 0.73 per cent copper, 0.04 per cent cobalt and 0.79 g/t PGMs from 58.0m and 9.8m going 1.45 per cent nickel, 0.9 per cent copper, 0.08 per cent cobalt and 0.7 g/t PGMs from 57.05m.
The four holes that make up the current program were drilled more than 1.2km along strike within a 1.2km-long massive sulphide target zone delineated by electromagnetic plates.
We continue to demonstrate strong potential for a bulk underground mining scenario at Ban Chang which could be significantly larger scale than the previously mined Ban Phuc massive sulphide underground mine.
At Ban Phuc, the previous owners successfully mined a 1.3m-wide MSV at much lower nickel prices than today. We are seeing broader widths and significant by-products which could lend to potentially better economics than when this mine previously operated. We have now drilled significant massive sulphide nickel mineralisation over 1.2km of strike at Ban Chang.
Ban Chang drill results will likely supplement the company’s planned scoping study on the Ta Khoa downstream processing facility to produce a nickel sulphate product for the lithium-ion battery industry. That study and a Ban Phuc maiden resource estimate are on track for completion in the current quarter.
Blackstone is blessed with the mothballed 450,000 tonne-per-annum Ban Phuc nickel concentrator at its project and it hopes to turn a veritable treasure trove of a couple of dozen massive sulphide vein prospects into long-life ore feed for the plant.
The Ban Chang drilling program is part of the company’s campaign to test regional massive sulphide vein prospects as it looks to build a resource inventory at the Ta Khoa project to supplement the Ban Phuc maiden resource.
With Ban Chang and the Ta Cuong prospect only the first of its massive sulphide targets to be tested throughout the Ta Khoa district, there is plenty of upside potential for Blackstone to redevelop this operation and recommence nickel and copper production there.
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