Blackstone Minerals Limited (ASX:BSX) (“Blackstone”) is pleased to present its Quarterly Report and Cash Flow Report.
- Blackstone provided an update on the Company’s progress to optimise its project development strategies through ongoing engagement with prospective technology and off-take partners focussing on the following critical activities:
- Partnerships: continued engagement with Partners to reach a final JV structure and investment contribution.
- Multi-product strategy: evaluation of various product and throughput staging options, including an initial nickel sulphate start up scenario, which would de- risk early project cashflows, and improve the project development schedule.
- Community: collaboration with community stakeholders to ensure greatest community support and to aid the permitting process for land access and thus enable early works activities.
- Permitting: dossier submitted seeking investment policy for the Ta Khoa Refinery, environmental impact assessment and social and economic baseline surveys commenced.
- Blackstone completed its second Digbee ESG™ assessment to support the development of the Ta Khoa Project in northern Vietnam achieving an overall score of BBB.
- Blackstone received a A$3.8 million Research and Development Refund from the Australian Tax Office in recognition of technical advancements made by the Company in the financial year ended 30 June 2022.
- Cash position of $16.43m and listed investments of $12.65m at the end of the quarter.
- Research and Development rebate of $3.8m received in March 2023.
Blackstone provided an update on corporate activities, and on the Ta Khoa Project development. With completion of the Ta Khoa Refinery (“TKR”) piloting program, Blackstone has progressed critical project milestones in collaboration with prospective technology and off-take partners (the “Partners”). The development strategy focusses on the following critical activities:
1. Partnerships: Five groups visited the Project site in 2022 as part of the partnership due diligence process. These visits were accompanied by meetings with government representatives (provincial and federal), Austrade, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, financial institutions and other important stakeholders.
Following the announcement of Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act (“IRA”) in the United States, the global landscape for battery materials changed dramatically. Seeing similar new initiatives rolling out in the European Union (“EU”) puts the Company in a unique position due to the existing Free Trade Agreement (“FTA”) between Vietnam and the EU. Following a trip to South Korea in January 2023 to meet with Partners, Blackstone saw an increased level of engagement with clear interest in the European FTA, as well as the low carbon footprint associated with the Ta Khoa Project nickel products.
The consideration of a multi-product strategy was welcomed by the Partners. Having the flexibility to sell nickel and cobalt sulphate intermediate products while completing precursor cathode active material (“pCAM”) qualification processes provides cashflow security during the critical project ramp-up phase. This strategy has also attracted several new downstream players, with short term nickel sulphate off-take a desirable contract to secure.
Blackstone is developing these relationships further and is working with its advisors to ensure that the right partner is chosen, delivering the best outcomes for shareholders.
2. Multi-product strategy: Blackstone is exploring various options in consultation with Partners and Wood, the lead engineering consultant for the Definitive Feasibility Study (“DFS”). While the development strategy depends upon the final partnership structure, key considerations being assessed include:
- Production of crystal nickel and cobalt sulphate intermediate products, prior to development of the pCAM facility funded from operating cashflow,
- Staged development of the Refinery, with an initial train capacity for 200,000 tonnes of concentrate feed per year, before expanding with a second train to 400,000 tonnes per year, which would be funded from operating cashflow,
- Early development of the Ta Khoa Massive Sulphide Vein (“MSV”) projects, (King Snake and Ban Chang), and operation though the existing concentrator.
Each of these options de-risk Blackstone’s path to project cashflows and are being evaluated from a technical and economic perspective.
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