The Ta Khoa Nickel Project is 160 kilometres west of Hanoi in the Son La Province and includes an existing modern nickel mine (Ban Phuc) built to Australian standards, which is currently under care and maintenance.
The Ban Phuc nickel mine successfully operated as a mechanised underground nickel mine from 2013 to 2016.
Since announcing the option to acquire a 90% interest in the Ta Khoa Nickel Project in May 2019, Blackstone has commenced drilling and concurrently undertaken an initial IP (induced polarisation) survey test line.
The IP survey has proven successful and the results will be used to target the second phase of drilling over the coming months.
Blackstone managing director Scott Williamson said: “Maiden drilling and geophysics have commenced at our flagship Ta Khoa Nickel Project in Northern Vietnam.
“We look forward to a consistent flow of results over the coming months from this ongoing drilling program.
“We are excited to be able to commence drilling and use modern geophysical methods to define existing and new nickel sulphide targets.
“The initial results from the first ever IP survey at Ta Khoa suggest we have a new tool in our arsenal that should allow us to see targets that were not seen before.”
Blackstone will continue to test for shallow DSS (shallow disseminated sulphide) targets at Ban Phuc and using the IP survey results will commence the second phase of drilling to target high chargeability and low resistivity zones which correlate with the higher-grade zones within the Ban Phuc DSS.
Blackstone is the first company to use IP as a targeting tool and the initial results suggest the geophysical method will allow the company to successfully define higher grade zones within both the MSV (massive sulphide vein) and DSS prospects throughout the Ta Khoa Nickel Project.
Three phase exploration program at the Ta Khoa Nickel Project
Previous project owners invested more than US$136 million in capital and generated US$213 million in revenue during a 3.5-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 10 years.
Existing infrastructure associated with the project includes an internationally designed 450,000 tonnes per annum processing plant connected to the local hydro power grid with a fully permitted tailings facility and a modern 250-person camp.
Previous project owners focused mining and exploration efforts primarily on the MSV at Ban Phuc, while Blackstone will now look to explore both MSV targets and DSS targets throughout the entire Ta Khoa Project.
Blackstone will conduct further geophysics on the MSV and DSS deposits and continue the significant drilling campaign.
The company will aim to deliver a maiden resource on the DSS at Ban Phuc over the coming months and investigate the potential to restart the Ban Phuc concentrator through focused exploration on both MSV and DSS deposits.