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TA KHOA REFINERY

We are focused on building an integrated upstream and downstream battery metals processing business in Vietnam that produces Nickel: Cobalt: Manganese (NCM) Precursor products for Asia’s growing Lithium-ion battery industry.

We own a 90% interest in Ta Khoa, 160km west of Hanoi in the Son La Province of Vietnam. Ta Khoa includes an existing modern nickel mine built to Australian standards, which we are using to process nickel ore delivered by our underground bulk sample program.

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The nickel mine successfully operated as a mechanised underground mine from 2013 to 2016. The Ta Khoa Nickel Project and Ta Khoa Refinery are the two major cogs in our vertically integrated development strategy (together – the Ta Khoa Project).

Our development strategy is underpinned by our ability to secure nickel concentrate. Ta Khoa is emerging as a nickel sulfide district of enviable scale with several exploration targets yet to be tested.

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Downstream Business – Our Refinery

We completed a Pre-feasibility Study (PFS) for the development of a Refinery in northern Vietnam in 2021. This confirmed a technically and economically robust hydrometallurgical refining process to upgrade nickel sulfide concentrate to produce battery grade NCM 811 Precursor. It reiterated the competitive advantages of nickel sulfide projects and adding value via an integrated downstream processing strategy and demonstrated that a very low capital intensity is required for the Ta Khoa Refinery to produce Class I nickel at a scale that would make Blackstone a globally significant producer.

Ta Khoa Nickel Project Downstream PFS Announcement
Nickel Day Presentation – Downstream PFS
Valuation Outcomes
  1. Base Case - Post-tax NPV8 of US$2.01bn and internal rate of return (IRR) of 67%

  2. Spot Case - Post-tax NPV8 of US$3.51bn and internal rate of return (IRR) of 98%

Base Case Economics
  • Upfront Project Capital of US$491m paid back in 1.5 years from first production

  • Life-of-Operations revenue of US$14.0bn and operating cash flow of US$4.5bn

  • Average annual operating cash flow of US$451m

  • Average annual post-tax cash flow of US$365m

  • Life-of-operations All-in Cost of US$11,997/ t NCM811 as compared to study weighted average forecast price on sale of NCM811 of US$16,397/ t NCM811 and July 2021 Shanghai Metals Market (SMM) spot price of US$19,559/t NCM811

Base Case Physicals
  • Refinery capacity of 400ktpa

  • 10-year life-of-Operations aligned with the Ban Phuc Disseminated orebody and availability of known third party concentrate feed

  • Average annual refined nickel output of 43.5ktpa

  • Average annual NCM811 Precursor Production of 85.6ktpa

  • First production currently targeted in 2024 and ramp up to steady state operations currently forecast to be achieved in CY 2026

  • 3.9Mt of concentrate feed with average Ni in concentrate grade of 11.5%, Co in concentrate grade of 0.3% and Cu in concentrate grade of 1.1%

  • Average annual copper by-product of 4.1ktpa

Our strategy to build a refinery in Vietnam is amid a very supportive ESG, macroeconomic and fiscal backdrop. The Base Case Pre-Feasibility Study financial outcomes are compelling based on an NCM811 Precursor price forecast that is conservative compared to current observable market rates. The internal rate of return on capital invested is exceptional for the Base Case, owing to very low capital intensity, a significant premium available when upgrading nickel sulfide concentrates into battery grade NCM811 Precursor and the competitive operating advantages in Vietnam, which include access to low-cost renewable hydro power.

 

The Base Case Refinery represents our view of the scale of operations that could over time, through exploration success, be supported by existing nickel sulfide mineralised landholdings. Economics have been presented assuming a 10-year life-of-operations, aligned with known and desired life-of-mine for third party feedstock concentrate sources that Blackstone aims to secure offtake.

We believe there is potential for Refinery life to extend beyond 10 years.