Market darling AVZ Minerals is closing in on a maiden resource at its 60 per cent-owned Manono lithium project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The share price of the Klaus Eckhof-backed company (ASX:AVZ) was up over 6 per cent at 26c this morning following the release of its December quarter report.

AVZ will begin 20,000 metres of drilling this month in a bid to define its first resource for the Manono project.

Drilling was originally meant to start in early December, but was delayed due to additional documentation requirements for the import of drilling equipment and an embargo of heavy haulage vehicles over the Christmas and New Year period.

The company has been a favourite of investors in the past year, with its share price rocketing 1525 per cent, boosting AVZ’s market value to more than $430 million.

AVZ shares rocketed last year. Source:
AVZ shares rocketed last year. Source:

In September, AVZ announced drilling results that showed one of the “longest pegmatite intercepts ever reported”.

Lithium is among the favoured battery metals, with demand driven by electronics and the electric vehicle uprising that is forecast to reach over 500 million vehicles by 2040 from 2 million currently.

AVZ has confirmed additional strike length at the Manono project, with rock chip sampling of the Carriere De L’est pegmatite returning grades of as high as 4.46 per cent lithium and an average of 3.11 per cent.

Carriere de L’Est, with a length of about 5500 metres, is the largest pegmatite in the Manono project. Typical grades of a hard rock lithium mine range from 0.9 per cent to 1.6 per cent.

AVZ is nearing completion of the construction of its field camp and expects to begin drilling in mid-January.

The company believes the characteristics of the Manono project “enhance the potential to define a world-class lithium resource”.

AVZ has now engaged two drilling contractors to ensure it has an initial resource by the end of the first quarter or early in the second quarter.

At the end of the December quarter, the company had about $12.9 million cash in the bank after raising a further $1.4 million from the exercise of options.