Low costs in Vietnam a big benefit for Blackstone's likely nickel development

BLACKSTONE Minerals MD Scott Williams expects operating costs to be significantly lower at the future Ta Khoa nickel development in Vietnam than in other jurisdictions and says the company is “well advanced” in discussions with end users interested in backing the nickel sulphate venture.
Low costs in Vietnam a big benefit for Blackstone's likely nickel development Low costs in Vietnam a big benefit for Blackstone's likely nickel development Low costs in Vietnam a big benefit for Blackstone's likely nickel development Low costs in Vietnam a big benefit for Blackstone's likely nickel development Low costs in Vietnam a big benefit for Blackstone's likely nickel development

The low nickel price earlier this decade was ultimately to blame for the closure of the Ban Phuc operation at Ta Khoa

Speaking at the Australian Nickel Conference in Perth this week, Williamson said the interest from third parties came as the ASX-listed company moved towards a maiden resource estimate and completion of scoping work over the next six months.

Williamson believes operating costs for Ta Khoa to be about 25% less than an equivalent operation in Australia or Canada due to much lower power and labour costs.

The company is already benefiting from the lower cost regime in Vietnam with drilling costs a fraction of those in Australia.

Two rigs currently being mobilised will double the drill fleet to four at Ta Khoa, with disseminated and massive sulphide prospects being targeted.

He also said potential PGM credits could cover operating costs and "really change the economics" of the disseminated nickel development opportunity.

The short lived Ban Phuc operation earlier this decade at Ta Khoa was focused on the massive sulphide mineralisation, with Williams making the point that a 1% nickel grade for the much larger scale disseminated mineralisation was equivalent to around 3 grams per tonne gold.

Established mining and processing infrastructure at Ta Khoa cost the previous developers about US$130 million. 

Drill hits reported this week by Blackstone included 27.7m grading 0.88% gold and 0.74gpt platinum plus palladium plus gold, and 12m at 1.35% nickel and 1.1gpt platinum, palladium and gold.

Blackstone is fully funded to deliver its maiden resource and scoping study following a A$4.5 million fund raising last month that issued new shares priced at 15c each.

Shares in Blackstone closed Tuesday at 13.5c, capitalising the company at $26 million.