AVZ Minerals to develop Africa’s largest lithium mine
AVZ Minerals Limited, a mineral exploration company, is focused on developing the Manono Project, potentially one of the world’s largest lithium-rich LCT (lithium, caesium, tantalum) pegmatite deposits. Manono is located in the south of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in central Africa.
The Manono Project is owned by AVZ (60%), La Congolaise d’Exploitation Minière SA (30%) (Cominiere, a State-owned enterprise) and Dathomir Mining Resources SARL (10%) (Dathomir, a privately owned company). AVZ is responsible for funding expenditure to completion of a feasibility study and a decision to mine.
The Manono Project is located 500km due north of Lubumbashi in the south of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in central Africa and covers 188km2. The project area can be accessed from Lubumbashi by a 1.5 hour flight or by road.
Infrastructure in Manono and the surrounding areas is limited. Power is currently generated at the Manono township using diesel generators and a recently commissioned solar power system. Dathomir has agreed to facilitate the rehabilitation of Piana Mwanga hydroelectric power station and the road from Lubumbashi to Manono. The road is subject to a US$285m upgrade presently being completed.
The Manono Project lies within the mid-Proterozoic Kibaran Belt, comprising a sedimentary and volcanic sequence that has been folded, metamorphosed and intruded by at least three separate phases of granite. The latest granite phase (900 to 950MA) is associated with widespread vein and pegmatite mineralization containing tin, tungsten, tantalum, niobium, lithium and beryllium.
The historic Manono Mine was mined for its Tin content between 1919 and 1982, during which time a total of 100Mm3 (million cubic metres) of ore were processed to produce 185,000 tonnes of cassiterite concentrate, sourced mainly from eluvial and weathered pegmatite from which was recovered an average of 1,850gm of cassiterite concentrate per cubic metre (g/m3) or approximately 1,330g/m3 Tin.
With the exception of some exploration work carried out on the old mine dumps, aimed at determining cassiterite and spodumene grades, little prospecting has taken place since 1960.
The presence of lithium mineralisation in pegmatites at Manono has been confirmed to extend along strike for more than 13km. Two large areas of pegmatite have been identified, with the northeast area, referred to as the Manono sector and the southwest area, referred to as the Kitotolo sector.
AVZ is seeking J.V. partners to build a LiOH / Li2CO3 plant in Europe to supply European battery plants. Lithium will be provided in the form of Lithium Sulphate from AVZ’s African operations for decades to come. AVZ offers a significant supply opportunity to Europeans and Americans alike. It’s based on greener, more reliable hard rock supply than brines.
AVZ operations will be majority powered by hydroelectric sourced power. AVZ’s project could supply over ≃100 kt/a Hydroxide Monohydrate or ≃25% of planned production in Europe. The company is convinced its resource size could be trebled with further exploration.