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Blackstone’s Ban Chang discovery delivers broad nickel intercepts

Blackstone Minerals has continued its successful delineation of the Ban Chang sulphide discovery with ongoing drilling intersecting broad zones of nickel mineralisation. The company’s maiden drilling program across the prospect has outlined mineralisation over more than 1.2km of strike with latest results including 9.60m at 0.84 per cent nickel and 14.65m at 0.74 per cent nickel.

Exploration at Ban Chang has revealed an envelope of nickel mineralisation that extends over more than 2km of strike. This has elevated the prospect to one of the largest potential resource positions in the Ta Khoa nickel terrane, making it a priority target for resource definition drilling.

Drilling continues to deliver consistent, broad intersections of nickel sulfide mineralisation from shallow depths with average widths of ~10m throughout most of the Ban Chang prospect and broader zones within Ban Chang East with greater than 20m wide intersections of potentially bulk‐mineable grade Ni‐Cu‐PGE mineralisation.

We aim to drill out Ban Chang over the coming months and upgrade our resource inventory by the end of CY20. We are continuing to systematically test 25 MSV targets throughout the Ta Khoa Ni‐Cu‐PGE district to add further high‐grade feed to our bulk open‐pit mining scenario at Ban Phuc and the KCZ.

The Ban Chang prospect is one of Blackstone’s 25 massive sulphide vein, or ‘MSV’ targets within the Ta Khoa project area and lies only 2.5km to the south-east of Blackstone’s mothballed Ban Phuc nickel processing plant.

The company’s Ta Khoa nickel sulphide project is located 160 km west of Hanoi in Vietnam and operated between 2013 and 2016 processing high-grade nickel ores from the Ban Phuc MSV, before being mothballed due to a declining nickel price. However, with nickel back in vogue courtesy of a battery-hungry market – and Elon Musk seeking to scoop up as much nickel as he can – the commodity has soared more than 40 per cent since April and with it carried the fortunes of nickel explorers and producers alike.

At US$15,000 per tonne, the soaring nickel price has put a fire in Blackstone’s belly and is providing a huge incentive for the company to rapidly build its resource book and slingshot the operation back into production.

Drilling from Ban Chang has continued to deliver a plethora of broad nickel intercepts including 9.60m at 0.84 per cent nickel and 0.73 per cent copper, 14.65m at 0.74 per cent nickel and 0.71 per cent copper, 5.85m at 1.62 per cent nickel and 1.47 per cent copper. These results come on the back of previous high-grade nickel intercepts across the discovery.

Work continues across the Ban Chang prospect area and its surrounds with recent electromagnetic surveys and sampling also identifying the Viper prospect to the east and extending the zone of recognised sulphide mineralisation out to over 2km. Blackstone is now actively drilling out the Ban Chang discovery with an eye on the delineation of a maiden resource for the prospect to provide an additional ore source of the Ban Phuc mill as it breathes new life into the operation.

Blackstone’s aggressive exploration program continues across the Ta Khoa nickel project with the company’s fleet of diamond rigs currently drilling 24/7 as it charges towards an eagerly anticipated resource upgrade later this year and edges ever closer to a move back into production.

Is your ASX listed company doing something interesting? Contact: matt.birney@wanews.com.au

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