AVZ Minerals’ (ASX: AVZ) Manono lithium and tin project in the Democratic Republic of Congo is seeing progress on offtake deals, financing, infrastructure work and new drilling.
The company says discussions are well advanced with “multiple” potential offtake partners for “significant” volumes of spodumene concentrate.
In addition, further offtake discussions concerning primary lithium sulphate and tin are also progressing well.
The company has also been accepted as a member of the European Battery Alliance, which is an organisation launched by the European Commission. That commission recently added lithium to the European Union’s critical raw materials list.
AVZ is now holding what is describes as “high level” discussions with multiple battery industry participants on the subject of developing a lithium chemical conversion plant in Europe.
Battery capacity in Europe is expected to rise from 100 gigawatt hours in 2022 to more than 500GWh by 2029. Europe’s share of global battery production is forecast to increase from 6% to 16% by 2030.
Manono is 65% owned by AVZ, with the DRC Government holding a 25% stake and 10% retained by another Congolese entity.
Advancing towards final investment decision
Manono is expected to have a development bill of US$545 million (A$750 million).
In June, AVZ obtained preliminary membership of iTSCi — the ITRI Tin Association Chain Initiative, which monitors conflict financing, human rights abuses, bribery and other issues connected with mining supply chains for tin, tantalum and tungsten in the DRC, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda.
Project financiers now expect mining companies to have iTSCi membership.
AVZ is continuing negotiations around financing options. Entities from Europe, South Africa and the Middle East are involved.
Tenders have been received, and are now being examined, covering the processing plant at Manono along with mine site buildings, construction crew accommodation, diesel supply, and camp catering.
Contracts will be awarded when AVZ makes its final investment decision.
Rehabilitation of hydro power plant, drilling ocntinues
AVZ has also issued a call for tenders covering the rehabilitation of the 30.9 megawatt Mpiana Mwanga hydro power station, located 85km from the mine site.
Discussions have been successful with the Angola Railway Company regarding the use of the railway line to the port in Angola, AVZ says.
Meanwhile, drilling of 10 new geological resource holes will begin later this month.
This is aimed at converting some of the inferred resource to indicated status, with assays results now due by November.