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Manono lithium/tin project, Democratic Republic of Congo – update

Drill core from the Manono lithium/tin project

Photo by AVZ Minerals

3rd November 2023

By: Sheila Barradas

Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor

     

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Name of the Project
Manono lithium/tin project.

Location
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Project Owner/s
AVZ Minerals raised $400-million in a transaction with Chinese investment firm CATH Energy Technologies, under which CATH would earn a 24% interest in a multifaceted joint venture (JV) to develop the project.

AVZ’s interest will fall to 51%, from 75%, with DRC-owned Cominiere retaining a 25% stake.

Project Description
An independent assessment has shown that the Manono project could have one of the lowest carbon footprints of any global hard-rock lithium miner.

The project has total mineral resources of 400-million tonnes grading 1.65% lithium oxide, 715 parts per million tin, 0.96% iron oxide and 0.29% phosphorous pentoxide.

The definitive feasibility study (DFS) has shown the project to be robust and viable, and envisages conventional openpit mining producing about 700 000 t/y of high-grade lithium and 45 475 t/y of primary lithium sulphate over a 20-year mine life, based on a 4.5-million-tonne-a-year operation underpinned by the project’s ore reserves.

Primary lithium sulphate will be produced using 153 000 t/y of the spodumene concentrate product as feedstock.

The processing flowsheet allows for the recovery of tin and tantalum from hard-rock ore, as well as smaller amounts of alluvial tin and tantalum secured from local artisanal mineworkers.

Potential Job Creation
Construction is expected to create 400 to 450 jobs, with 500 to 550 jobs expected to be created in the long term.

Net Present Value/Internal Rate of Return
The project has a pretax net present value on a 100% basis, at a 10% discount rate, of $2.35-billion and an internal rate of return of 53.15%, with a payback of 1.5 years.

Capital Expenditure
Initial construction capital is estimated at $545.5-million, including a 10% contingency.

Planned Start/End Date
Production is expected to start in the first quarter of 2022, subject to Covid-19 regulations.

Latest Developments
AVZ Minerals reported on October 30 that it planned to file an emergency arbitration application, seeking injunctive relief against Cominiere to prohibit any transaction pertaining to the contested Manono lithium mine.

China's Zijin Mining has said that joint venture Manono Lithium, in which its unit, Jinxiang Lithium, owns a 61% stake and DRC's State-owned Cominiere has the remaining interest, has been granted rights over the north-east tenement of the Manono mine.

AVZ is seeking relief under International Criminal Court rules to maintain and preserve the rights of Dathcom Mining SA, through which it says it owns the project.

The company has pending legal challenges against Cominiere and another unit of Zijin.

The permit to develop one of the world's largest hard-rock deposits of the mineral initially belonged to AVZ Minerals.

The permit was revoked in February by the DRC's mines ministry, which said the company had not developed the project fast enough.

China's Zijin has said that it will defend its right to advance the lithium mine, after being granted permission to develop the deposit.

Key Contracts, Suppliers and Consultants
GR Engineering Services (process plant); PAIE (metallurgical testwork consultants); ALS (metallurgical testwork laboratories); Coppern (high-pressure grinding rolls original-equipment manufacturer, or OEM); Steinhart (ore sorting OEM); Middindi Consultants (geotechnical study); RD Consultants (hydrogeology and hydrology); CSA Global (resources-to-reserves study and mine development); ERM (mine closure plan); CONSI (operational readiness); L&MGSPL (tail­ings storage facility); Dynamic IT (information technology systems); Infraology (technical rail due diligence); Roskill (marketing survey); Graeme Campbell and Associates (geoscience); EmiAfrica (economic- and social-impact assess­ment); FTI Consulting (financial modelling); KCS Mining (mine contractor costing); Increva (project management consultants); Nexus Bonum (ore sorting consultants); iSpatial (geographic infor­mation system mapping); and Wisedesign (hydroelectric power plant DFS).

Contact Details for Project Information
AVZ Minerals, tel + 61 8 6117 9397 or email admin@avzminerals.com.au.

 

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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