Blackstone Minerals Limited announced that it has entered a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Korea’s largest electric vehicle (EV) battery cathode manufacturer, Ecopro BM Co Limited (Ecopro BM).
The non-binding MoU outlines an alliance structure whereby Ecopro BM and Blackstone will work in partnership to develop a downstream processing facility in association with Blackstone’s Ta Khoa Nickel Project in northern Vietnam.
The intention of the MoU is for the parties to enter into an alliance to form a Joint Venture with the intention to develop a suitable nickel, cobalt or other battery mineral product for lithium-ion battery manufacturing.
Blackstone Minerals Managing Director Scott Williamson commented: “Our Ta Khoa Nickel Project has significant potential to deliver the critical raw materials required for Ecopro’s cathode manufacturing process and meet the ever-increasing demand for high-nickel content cathodes driven by the imminent electric vehicle (EV) revolution. We look forward to finalising a formal agreement with Ecopro over the coming months. In the meantime, we continue the exploration and development of our flagship Ta Khoa Nickel Project in northern Vietnam.”
Blackstone aims to deliver a maiden resource on the disseminated sulfide (DSS) at Ban Phuc over the coming months and investigate the potential to restart the existing Ban Phuc concentrator through focused exploration on both massive sulfide veins (MSV) and DSS deposits. Blackstone has commenced a scoping study on the downstream processing facility at Ta Khoa. The scoping study will provide detail for potential joint venture partners to formalise a binding agreement.
Blackstone has commenced metallurgical testing on the Ban Phuc DSS orebody with an aim to develop a flow sheet for a product suitable for the lithium ion battery industry. In addition, Blackstone will investigate the potential to develop downstream processing infrastructure in Vietnam to produce a downstream nickel and cobalt product to supply Asia’s growing lithium ion battery industry.
The Ta Khoa Nickel Project in Vietnam includes an existing modern nickel mine which has been under care and maintenance since 2016 due to falling nickel prices. Existing infrastructure includes an internationally designed 450ktpa processing plant.
Previous project owners focused mining and exploration efforts primarily on the MSV at Ban Phuc. Blackstone plans to explore both MSV and DSS targets throughout the project, initially within a 5km radius of the existing processing facility. Blackstone will conduct further geophysics on the MSV and DSS targets and continue its 8,000m maiden drilling campaign.