THE INSIDE STORY: Northern hemisphere seasonal conditions provide Blackstone Minerals (ASX: BSX) the ideal opportunity to stay home over the holidays and explore its domestic portfolio.
Blackstone Minerals’ major focus is the company’s BC cobalt project in British Columbia, Canada, however, it also has the emerging Silver Swan South gold project, located eight kilometres along strike of the five million-ounce Kanowna Belle gold mine near Kalgoorlie in Western Australia.
The Silver Swan South project comprises one exploration licence application E27/545 and six granted prospecting licences, P27/2191 – 2196 covering an area of 47.2 square kilometres and are located approximately 40 kilometres northeast of Kalgoorlie.
“Around this time of year, we start to focus more on our Australian assets,” Blackstone Minerals managing director Scott Williamson told The Resources Roadhouse.
“The reason for this is that there is substantial snow covering in Canada, so we can’t access our ground.
“This is not at all a bad outcome, as it does allow us to give the attention, we feel, our Silver Swan South gold project in Western Australia deserves.”
Results from Blackstone Minerals’ 2018 drilling campaign at the Silver Swan South gold project produced several encouraging results.
The company’s second phase aircore drilling program at Silver Swan South demonstrated its potential as being an emerging gold discovery hosting extensive gold mineralisation and basement geochemical anomalism.
The basement geochemistry contours at the project’s Black Eagle prospect are similar in size to the footprint of the nearby Kanowna Belle deposit.
The basement geochemical anomalisms at the Black Eagle deposit as well as at the Black Hawk prospect are located along the interpreted extension of the Fitzroy Shear Zone, which hosts the Kanowna Belle gold mine.
The drilling encountered gold mineralisation and extensive basement geochemical anomalism at the Black Eagle prospect, providing a result of:
10 metres at 3.2 grams per tonne gold from 68m within 15m at 2.2g/t gold from 64m to end-of-hole (EOH).
On the back of this result, Blackstone was able to promote the Black Eagle prospect to priority drill target status given that it combined with previous equally encouraging reconnaissance results of 3m at 3.5g/t gold from 60m and 3m at 2.6g/t gold from 52m from the Black Hawk prospect.
Although Blackstone Minerals is keen to identify the extent and source of the gold mineralisation at Silver Swan South, it is also eager to follow-up results of surface sampling of the target ultramafic unit that previously confirmed the presence of nickel sulphides (pentlandite).
“When we originally acquired this ground, we actually did so for its nickel potential,” Williamson said.
“We have a ten-kilometre ultramafic package, which is the host for komatiite-style nickel sulphides.
“This is the project the company originally listed on, because we liked what we saw in terms of nickel sulphide potential, so we are now going to revisit that nickel sulphide potential.”
Williamson intimated the impetus behind the company’s nickel sulphide drive stems from discussions it is having with a potential partner; a Korea-based battery metals-focused company.
“We are in early discussion with a Korean entity that is interested, not only in cobalt, which is our Canadian focus, but is also interested in nickel,” he said.
Once the Canadian snow melts, Blackstone will return to British Columbia to follow-up the impressive copper, gold and cobalt targets it identified by way of a soil sampling program undertaken on the company’s BC cobalt project (previously known as the Little Gem cobalt project).
The most recent work undertaken at the BC cobalt project consisted an extensive soil sampling program that identified several copper-gold-cobalt targets.
This program identified the Jewel copper-gold-cobalt prospect, located 1.1 kilometres north-northeast of the project’s original focus, the Little Gem prospect.
The new soil anomalies are greater than 1.5 kilometres long and coincide with IP targets indicating a possible large sulphide bearing body at depth.
These copper, gold and cobalt soil anomalies are located within a structural setting near the contact between the granodiorite and serpentinite that Blackstone considers to be analogous in geological setting to the deposits of the Bou-Azzer primary cobalt district in Morocco.
“We consider there to be forty-eight kilometres of that particular geology that delivered the Little Gem target,” Williamson explained.
“We are now referring to the area as the BC cobalt project, or BC Cobalt Belt.
“We have only tested one target – Little Gem – out of the entire belt at this stage.
“The key target to have now emerged for testing is the Jewel copper-gold-cobalt prospect.”
Surface rock chip samples taken at the Jewel prospect returned grades of up to 5.6 per cent copper and 5.1 per cent copper.
The BC project took further shape with the discovery of the Erebor cobalt-gold discovery, located 900m along an interpreted ultramafic trend to the south-west of the historic Little Gem adits.
Results from surface rock chip samples taken from the Erebor discovery returned assays recording grades of up to 2.3 per cent cobalt and 32 grams per tonne gold.
High-grade cobalt assays from surface rock chip samples taken from the Erebor discovery included:
2.3 per cent cobalt, 32 g/t gold and 1.1 per cent nickel;
1 per cent cobalt;
1 per cent cobalt;
0.6 per cent cobalt;
0.6 per cent cobalt;
0.5 per cent cobalt; and
0.4 per cent cobalt.
These were complemented by high-grade gold and copper assays recorded from surface rock chip samples from Erebor, including:
16.7g/t gold and 1.6 per cent copper;
10.4g/t gold; and
1.5 per cent copper.
Blackstone claims Erebor as the first discovery of significant cobalt-gold mineralisation in the region since prospectors discovered similar mineralisation at Little Gem in the 1930s.
The company believes the Erebor discovery further suggests the potential for the BC project to host multiple deposits akin to the Bou-Azzer primary cobalt district in Morocco.
Blackstone remains encouraged by the fact there has been very little modern-day exploration undertaken across the BC cobalt project since the activities carried out by the early prospectors at Little Gem.
Even since then the main activities have involved airborne geophysical surveys (including magnetic, radiometric and electromagnetic (EM) surveys) in the 1970s and a further two drill holes completed in 1986.
The mineral occurrence at the Jewel prospect supported some gold production from 1938 to 1940.
Cobalt contributes up to 60 per cent of the value of Lithium Ion Batteries (LIBs), which in turn accounts for greater than 50 per cent of global demand.
The projected role of LIBs in the emerging electric vehicle market makes them one of the more significant sources of power in the foreseeable future.
Analysts such as Bloomberg have forecast 55 per cent of vehicles sold by 2040 to be electric.
This statistic hits reality when compared to the current figure of just one per cent of global sales attributed to EVs.
Cobalt is expected to have a supply deficit as currently mining is only just meeting demand.
The cobalt price increased from US$10/lb (US$22,000/t) to US$40/lb (US$87,000/t) in recent times before falling to US$25/lb (US$55,000/t) due to seasonal factors.
Current prices are still well short of the 2008 high of US$52/lb (US$115,000/t) which was the last time cobalt was in deficit.
Blackstone Minerals Limited (ASX: BSX)
…The Short Story
Suite 3, Level 3
24 Outram Street
West Perth, WA, 6005
Ph: +61 8 9425 5217
Hamish Halliday, Scott Williamson, Andrew Radonjic, Michael Konnert, Stephen Parsons