THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Blackstone Minerals (ASX: BSX) bounced out of a self-imposed trading halt to announce $6.8 million investment in the company by South Korea-based battery and environment material company, EcoProa.
Blackstone Minerals has signed a binding share purchase agreement with EcoPro Co. Limited, who’s subsidiary company, EcoPro BM, is the world’s second largest and Korea’s largest nickel-rich cathode materials manufacturer.
The placement of 40 million fully paid ordinary shares at an issue price of $0.17 per share represents a healthy 62 per cent premium to Blackstone Minerals’ last traded price before it went into self-exile.
Blackstone Minerals said the binding agreement outlines an alliance structure under which it will work in partnership with EcoPro – by way of an additional investment via a Joint Venture Agreement – to develop a downstream processing facility in association with Blackstone Minerals’ Ta Khoa nickel-PGE project in northern Vietnam.
“We are pleased to announce this investment of $6.8 million at a premium which strengthens our alliance with EcoPro,” Blackstone Minerals managing director Scott Williamson said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.
“Our Ta Khoa nickel-PGE project has the potential to deliver the critical raw materials required for EcoPro’s cathode manufacturing to meet the demand from the imminent electric vehicle (EV) revolution.
“We look forward to working towards the next stage of our partnership to develop the downstream processing facility in northern Vietnam.”
Blackstone Minerals has signalled its intent to deliver a maiden resource in Q3, focused initially on the disseminated sulphide (DSS) at Ban Phuc as it continues to investigate the potential to restart the existing Ban Phuc concentrator through focused exploration on both massive sulphide veins (MSV) and DSS deposits.
Blackstone has already commenced a scoping study on the downstream processing facility at Ta Khoa, which is anticipated to also to be announced in Q3.
This is expected to provide details for JV partners to formalise the next stage of investment.
Metallurgical testing is also underway on the Ban Phuc DSS deposit with an aim to develop a flow sheet for a product suitable for the lithium-ion battery industry.
Blackstone is also investigating 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 company’s purchase of the Ta Khoa nickel-PGE project came with an existing modern nickel mine that had been placed under care and maintenance since 2016 due to falling nickel prices.
Existing infrastructure includes an internationally designed 450,000 tonnes per annum processing plant.
Previous project owners focused mining and exploration efforts primarily on the MSV at Ban Phuc, where Blackstone plans to explore both MSV and DSS targets throughout the project, initially within a five kilometres radius of the existing processing facility.
EcoPro is a South Korea-based company engaged in the battery and environment material sector, principally in the manufacture and sale of secondary battery materials.
The company manufactures cathode active materials and precursors used for secondary batteries and provides environmental materials including sorbents and catalysts, chemical air filters, and greenhouse gas reduction devices, among others.