Shares in AVZ Minerals rose on Monday, as the ASX-listed company announced that it had secured $240-million from a Chinese investment entity to develop its lithium and tin project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The developer announced that CATH Energy Technologies (CATH), a private investment entity jointly owned by Pei Zhenhua and Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Limited (CATL), would earn a 24% equity interest in a multi-faceted joint venture to develop the Manono lithium and tin project.
CATH would pay $240-million cash for its 24% equity interest and a further amount to fund its pro-rata portion of funding for the development of the project. AVZ’s interest would fall to 51%, from 75%, with DRC-owned Cominiere retaining a 25% stake.
The transaction, in totality, would contribute more than $400-million, subject to final project development costs, AVZ Minerals stated.
Proceeds from the transaction would fund the majority of the total project financing required.
The existing offtake agreement with Yibin Tianyi would be assigned to CATH and would be expanded in scope. Further, CATH would enter into a long-term primary lithium sulphide (PLS) offtake of tolling agreement in respect of PLS calcining plant, which would also be developed in joint venture with CATH.
AVZ said that the parties had also agreed to progress a study to increase yearly production, expanding dense media separation capacity from 4.5-million tonnes a year of throughput, producing 0.7-million tonnes of SC6 as contemplated in the 2020 definitive feasibility study, to a ten-million-tonne-a-year DMS throughput, producing 1.6-million tonnes of SC6.
The studies were started in early September and the company said it would be significantly progressed by year-end.
Under the expanded scenario, CATH would fund its equity share of the additional Manono project development capital expenditure and increase its SC6 offtake to about 50% of yearly production.
The parties would also assess the feasibility of developing a lithium hydroxide facility.
"We are delighted to enter into this deal with someone of the calibre of Mr Pei and CATL both of whom have the financial capacity, technical expertise and credibility within the lithium conversion and lithium-ion battery industry to complement the world class Manono project.
“Our shared strategic vision to develop the vast potential of the Manono project and further downstream projects, provide an exciting future for AVZ shareholders," said MD Nigel Ferguson.
Shares in AVZ jumped more than 15% to a 52-week high of A$0.37 apiece.