PERTH (miningweekly.com) – ASX-listed Blackstone Minerals will collaborate with the Vietnamese government to identify new nickel opportunities in the country.
Blackstone’s 90% owned subsidiary Ban Phuc Nickel Mines (BPNM) will work in collaboration with the General Department of Geology & Minerals of Vietnam (GDGMV), initially conducting new geophysics exploration to advance the Chim Van target, a highly prospective nickel target, some 10 km from the company’s Ban Phuc openpit deposit.
“Blackstone is delighted to be working closely with the GDGMV to define the geological potential of the Chim Van target. The Chim Van target is located in close proximity to the existing Ta Khoa footprint and would leverage the company’s current development plans, which includes the construction of a large concentrator adjacent to the significant existing mineral resource at Ban Phuc,” said Blackstone MD Scott Williamson.
“The development of the Ta Khoa downstream refinery will be underpinned by Blackstone’s strategy to secure supply. The Chim Van target, albeit in the early phases of discovery, is an example of the growth opportunities in and around the Ta Khoa district, and in Northern Vietnam more broadly that the company is working on diligently to secure.
“We look forward to future cooperation with the GDGMV and updating our shareholders of the outcomes of our initial exploration programmes in due course.”
The Blackstone board in August approved the first phase of pilot plant work and the start of a definitive feasibility study on its Ta Khoa project, after a prefeasibility study into the refinery estimated that the project would require a capital investment of $491-million to support a refining capacity of 400 000 t/y, producing 43 500 t/y of refined nickel, generating revenues of some $14-billion over a ten-year operating life.
The project would also support average annual nickel/cobalt/manganese precursor production of 85 600 t/y, and average annual copper by-product of 4 100 t/y.
Williamson told delegates at the Australian Nickel Conference, in Perth, that nickel feed for the refinery would be sourced from Australia, Canada and Africa, with the project’s scalability dependent on the supply of concentrate.
Williamson noted that funding for the development of the refinery would likely be sourced from offtake partners such as lithium-ion battery and electric vehicle manufacturers.