Special Report: AVZ Minerals expects the definitive feasibility study (DFS) for its Manono lithium and tin project in the Democratic Republic of Congo to be completed in early 2020.

The expectation follows the progress made with its recent work to further characterise the metallurgy of the ore at the site.

AVZ (ASX:AVZ) said the results from phase one of the metallurgy program will enable GR Engineering to rapidly progress the DFS, which is expected to be finalised in the first quarter of 2020.

The latest work confirms that the finest crush size of 3.35mm produces better lithia grades and recoveries when compared with the coarser crush sizes tested.

And when the smaller crush size is compared with 5.6mm ore, it produces a greater than 6 per cent spodumene concentrate product with low iron and mica.

“We are continuing to see really encouraging results from the metallurgical test work that has been undertaken so far,” managing director Nigel Ferguson said.

While the finer crush size resulted in better grades and recoveries, the performance could be improved “by optimising test parameters in the phase two confirmatory program, based on equipment performance”, he said.

And recoveries could be enhanced further by feeding coarser product to high-pressure grinding mills or by pre-screening the ore prior to grinding.

There will be further testing of the parameters surrounding the feedstock in the next phase of studies, such as differing dense media separation circuits as well as finer cut-off sizes.

“Finally, we have not investigated, as yet, any further downstream treatment to increase purity of grade such as optical sorting, magnetic separation or other methodologies,” Ferguson said.

During the second phase of the metallurgical program, AVZ intends to verify the phase one flowsheets and design parameters, as well as optimise the operation to maximise recoveries.


Potential ‘world-class’ project

The Manono project has the potential to be a world-class, long-life mine, an extended scoping study for the 5 million tonne a year project has shown.

This study estimates Manono will have a net present value of as much as $US2.63 billion ($3.9 billion) before taking taxes and royalties into account, while also showing an internal rate of return of greater than 64 per cent.

Both the NPV and IRR are used to estimate potential profitability, and the higher above zero they are, the better the prospective economics of the project.

Work continues to dewater the project with planning completed to drill the resource to ‘bank’ the project.

There is an estimated 25 million tonnes of inferred resource within the pit floor, which AVZ expects to be brought into the measured category once drilling is completed.

Mineral resources are categorised in order of increasing geological confidence as inferred, indicated or measured.

A “measured” resource represents the highest level of geologic knowledge and confidence.

Now watch:90 Seconds With… Nigel Ferguson, AVZ Minerals

This story was developed in collaboration with AVZ Minerals, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.
This story does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.