Blackstone Minerals Ltd (ASX: BSX) is a mineral exploration and development company, with a 90% interest in the Ta Khoa district scale nickel project in Vietnam. BSX is actively exploring and developing the project which will include the refining of nickel-cobalt concentrate into a NCM precursor to satisfy the demand of its strategic partner Ecopro and potentially other battery manufacturers.
BSX pursues a two-fold strategy:
1. Increase the mineral resource at the Ban Phuc disseminated sulphide deposit in preparation for the Pre-Feasibility Study to support the development of a new 4 or 6 mtpa plant
2. Drill test and develop massive and semi-massive sulphide veins to justify an early restart of the existing plant (best suited for high grade mineralisation). Such restart will bring cash flow to assist in the financing of the downstream processing (step 1) and the larger concentrator (step 2)
The production of a NCM precursor adds significant value far beyond the refining step as the payability, typically (70-80%) affecting the sale of nickel concentrates, becomes irrelevant and BSX eliminates the Vietnamese tariffs applied to the export of nickel concentrates.
Key outcomes if successful:
- Globally significant mineral resource / battery project
- Either an early existing plant restart or a plant upgrade to restart on a larger scale and with a longer mine life
- Value added nickel product to attract Li-ion battery raw materials manufacturers and traders
The recent nickel sulphide discoveries bode well for the success of BSX’ strategy.