AVZ Minerals has taken another decisive step towards production, with the company’s metallurgical test work successfully generating a high-purity lithium sulphate product for potential use in the production of lithium-ion batteries. The current testing program forms a key part of the development program over its Manono lithium-tin project in the central Africa, which is also assessing the viability of downstream processing at the evolving operation.
AVZ Minerals has taken another decisive step towards production, with the company’s metallurgical test work successfully generating a high-purity lithium sulphate product for potential use in the production of lithium-ion batteries. The current testing program forms a key part of the development program over its Manono lithium-tin project in the central Africa which is also assessing the viability of downstream processing at the evolving operation.
The company engaged Kingston Processing Metallurgy in Canada to assist in the design of a flow sheet and test work to produce an enhanced lithium sulphate product. Kingston’s program utilised the company’s first-pass 6 per cent lithium oxide spodumene concentrate, or “SC6” product, from Manono and converted it from an “alpha spodumene” to a “beta spodumene”, recovering the around 84 to 88 per cent of the contained lithium metal.
Simple roasting and leaching of the SC6 substrate yielded a high-purity lithium sulphate with less than 20 per cent sodium and potassium sulphate impurities. Both impurities can be easily removed by downstream processing, to create a lithium hydroxide feedstock for use in the production of lithium batteries.
The test work also served to validate the proposed process flowsheets put forward as part of the company’s definitive feasibility study, or “DFS” which was released in the first half of 2020.
AVZ Minerals Managing Director, Nigel Ferguson said:“It is pleasing to have independent confirmation of our proposed lithium sulphate plant process as well as verification that our product is suitable for feedstock for battery plants.”
“KPM’s test work provides further confirmation that our high-quality Manono product is capable of producing clean Primary Lithium Sulphate that is suitable for use in the production of batteries.”
The company’s Manono lithium-tin project is located within the Democratic Republic of the Congo in central Africa. The project hosts a colossal open pit resource of 400 million tonnes, grading at an impressive 1.65 per cent lithium oxide, firmly positioning Manono as one of the largest undeveloped lithium deposits in the world.
AVZ has also published an impressive DFS for the project which boasts a stellar set of figures including a 20-year mine life, a A$3.25 billion Net Present Value and an eye-popping A$515 million annual EBITDA.
The company has barely paused for breath since the release of its DFS and continues to hurtle towards production. AVZ has recently raised additional capital to fund a raft of pre-mining activities, with ongoing work including drilling across the floor of the Roche Dure open pit to facilitate the estimation of an upgraded resource for the project.
AVZ has recently jumped into a swag of geotechnical work in preparation for its move to construction and mining including hydrogeological modelling of the sub-surface aquifers, to assess their potential long-term effect on the mining of the open pits. Sampling and an assessment of the ground conditions across the proposed plant site is also well advanced.
The company continues to tick off the various environmental and social impact assessments required for the developing operation, having now received six of the seven certificates required to proceed to production. In addition, the mine camp has been expanded to accommodate the construction crew as AVZ looks toward making a final investment decision on most of the medium to large tender items for both plant construction and mining.
With AVZ having recently locked away its first off-take agreement for more than a third of Manono’s annual production and recent test work confirming the viability of downstream processing at the operation, the company looks to be sitting pretty as it charges into the development phase of the lithium operation in Africa and looks well positioned to make the enviable jump from explorer to miner in 2021.
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