AVZ’s lithium test work checks out, focus now on Manono DFS
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Special Report: AVZ has proved its ability to economically recover lithium from its Manono project and is now progressing recovery work for tin and tantalum by-products.
With the ink barely dry on a binding agreement with the Democratic Republic of Congo government that could see its project enjoy tax breaks, AVZ Minerals (ASX:AVZ) has now completed the bulk of metallurgical test work for Manono.
Bulk processing of Manono ore, which included about 3 per cent xenolithic waste to simulate worst case iron contamination, successfully recovered more than 60 per cent lithia with a concentrate grade of 6.1 per cent lithium oxide (Li2O).
The concentrate also contained iron levels that are well within specification and the company is expecting the iron levels in the final product will be even lower, as xenolithic waste is generally well distinguishable and massive throughout the orebody and will be selectively removed through mining to waste dumps.
Individual optimisation tests achieved Li2O grades of up to 6.5 per cent.
With lithium recovery test work completed, the company is now focused on recovery of the by-products such as tin and tantalum.
Fine lithia recovery from fines using flotation processes also continues to provide invaluable data for future operations.
“Our phase two test work is now complete and has delivered exceptional results in terms of lithia recovery and support for the selected DFS flowsheet,” managing director Nigel Ferguson said.
“Furthermore, the product grade and recovery confirm both the reproducibility of testing and high degree of flexibility in attaining economic graded products.”
He added that the work demonstrated the company’s laboratory test work was scalable to a full-sized operation.
Speaking to Stockhead, Ferguson noted that the company was now finalising its definitive feasibility study (DFS).
“We do have discussions and a workshop with the government in the DRC at the end of March, which will have quite a considerable bearing on the DFS, and we wish those details to be captured in the document” he explained.
This relates to the Special Economic Zone (SEZ), which typically provides investors with exemptions or reductions on taxes, royalties and duties for either a set period of time or permanently.
As the proposed developer of the Manono SEZ in the Tanganyika Province, AVZ would also be eligible for additional benefits.
Ferguson expects the results for the tin and tantalum recovery work should be announced before the end of March.
“You optimise which mineral you are going to extract first, which is usually the most valuable product, then you look to recover the remaining minerals of value whenever you can,” he said.
“We stipulated previously that we can get up to 30 per cent recovery of the tin and tantalum in the heavy minerals concentrate so I think we are going to get some good numbers out of the tin and tantalum recoveries.”