Blackstone Minerals Appoints Contractor for Upstream DFS of Ta Khoa Nickel Project

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Advanced explorer Blackstone Minerals (ASX:BSX) has appointed Tier 1 process engineering, design and construction firm GR Engineering Services (GRES) to provide a definitive upstream feasibility study for its flagship nickel project Ta Khoa in Vietnam.

GRES will focus on the completion of major works including processing infrastructure, metallurgical testing and co-elimination tailings storage, as well as other key areas such as mining studies.

The company has entered into similar contracts on nickel projects owned by Oz Minerals (ASX: OZL) in West Musgrave; Western Areas (ASX: WSA) at Cosmos and Cosmic Boy; IGO (ASX:IGO) to Nova; and Northern Star Resources (ASX: NST) in Sinclair.

Blackstone chief executive Scott Williamson welcomed GRES’ appointment.

“We are delighted that GRES is leading the delivery of our definitive feasibility study up front, adding to an impressive team of engineers contributing to the design and development of the Ta Khoa project,” he said.

“We continue to de-risk our development strategy from a technical and financial perspective, and look forward to updating the market as we reach key milestones towards a final investment decision.”

Integrated business

Blackstone is focused on building an integrated upstream and downstream battery metal processing business that produces NCM (nickel-manganese-cobalt) precursor products for the growing Asian lithium-ion industry.

The company owns a 90% interest in the Ta Khoa project, including an existing modern nickel mine built to Australian standards that is currently used to process nickel ore delivered by an underground bulk sampling program.

Mr Williamson said the Ta Khoa project and refinery are two major cogs in a vertically integrated development strategy backed by an area that is emerging as an “enviable scale nickel sulphide district” with several exploration targets yet to be tested.

In February, Blackstone completed an expanded pre-feasibility study for Ta Khoa, presented on an integrated basis with the proposed refinery which is designed to have a capacity of 400,000 tonnes per year with raw materials supplied by Ta Khoa and third-party sources.

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