Taruga Gold — which counts AVZ Minerals chairman Klaus Eckhof as an advisor and his daughter Sheena as a director — has soared on news of a Congo lithium deal.

Taruga (ASX:TAR) — which backed out of a cobalt and copper deal in the Congo earlier this year — has put its foot on a 7.5 sq km lithium project in same country.

The deal was originally offered to AVZ — but the African-focused explorer wasn’t looking for acquisitions at the time, Mr Eckhof told Stockhead.

Instead he brought the deal to Taruga.

Taruga’s shares jumped 66 per cent to 8.8c after the announcement yesterday.

Taruga, which until now has mainly dabbled in gold exploration in Niger and Cote d’Ivoire, signed up Mr Eckhof as an advisor in May and welcomed his daughter Sheena to its board in September.

The explorer also counts ex-AVZ company secretary and director Gary Steinepreis among its directors. Mr Steinepreis resigned from AVZ in August.

Taruga has also appointed Mark Gasson — a colleague of Mr Eckhof from ventures including Amani Gold (once known as Burey Gold), Panex Resources and AVZ — as a strategic consultant.

Taruga Gold committed to buying a 65 per cent interest in a lithium project from Congo shell company TIEX SA.

The deal came to Taruga via Mr Eckhof after AVZ passed on the deal.

Mr Eckhof said his relationship with Mr Steinepreis and the fact that Taruga was an “available shell” meant he could help that company buy it instead.

Mr Eckhof and Mr Gasson will receive 12 million Taruga shares as a facilitation fee once the deal goes through.

The new project is 80 km from AVZ’s Manono Project, which Mr Eckhof says is the biggest potential lithium deposit in the world.

Taruga has agreed to fund all exploration. TIEX SA must convert the project into a ‘Permis de Recherche’ (search permit) during the 90-day due diligence period.

Golden touch

Mr Eckhof has become something of a talisman for ASX-listed companies.

AVZ’s share price has risen spectacularly this year. After spending five years in the doldrums around 1c, AVZ shares have traded as high as 17.5c this year. It sat at 13.8c yesterday.

Last year Burey Gold, which changed its name to Amani Gold (ASX:ANL) in December, announced “exceptional gold results” at a Congo tenement. Mr Eckhof is a non-executive director.

“These are exceptional results from this initial shallow drilling program at our newest target at Douze Match,” Mr Eckhof said at the time. “The results from hole DM-RC003 are better than anything I have seen in my Moto-Kibali experience.”

Amani shares surged 220 per cent from 2.4c to an all time high of 7.7c in early July, before falling back below 4c this year when it began dialling back its resource estimates. The shares closed Wednesday at 2.7c.

Mr Eckhoff’s latest venture Okapi Resources last week finished its first trading day at a 68 per cent premium to its 20c listing price.

Mr Eckhof also has an association with Tawana Resources (ASX:TAW), which has surged from 0.3c in April 2016 to 30c yesterday, after positive results from its Bald Hill lithium mine in Western Australia.

Mr Eckhof is an executive of corporate and financial services firm Corporate & Resource Consultants, which owns 11.59 per cent of Tawana.