Metallurgy stacks up at AVZs giant lithium project

AVZ Minerals is on track to deliver its definitive feasibility study in the coming months, with phase two metallurgical test work delivering an exceptional batch of results that reinforce the scalability of its giant Manono lithium and tin project in the DRC.

AVZ said it had produced a lithium concentrate grading 6.3% during testwork, easily surpassing the preferred market threshold of 6%, which on occasion can even be as low as 5%.

In what appears to be shaping up as one of the most detailed hard rock definitive feasibility studies from the world’s largest undeveloped spodumene resource, the ASX-listed company said that its first optimisation tests returned a lithium oxide recovery of 55.7%, which was then turned into a lithium concentrate grading 6.3%.

To put these numbers into perspective, AVZ tabled some spodumene concentrations from a series of global hard rock producers, where the public disclosure information was available.

It said the average chemical lithium concentrate grade amongst its sample basket of seven producers showed an average concentrate grade of 5.88%.

According to the company, concentrate grade specifications by battery manufacturers can sometimes be as low as 5%, placing its 6.3% concentrate grade well above the market dictated grade.

During hard rock lithium processing, two different concentrates can be produced a – chemical-grade that is suitable for conversion into lithium chemicals known as lithium hydroxide or lithium carbonate and a premium technical grade – both of which depend on the requirements of the offtake customer. TG concentrates are largely used in glass and ceramics.

AVZ said it has demonstrated that it has the potential to produce an initial chemical grade product for sale to battery manufacturers and it also said that it has the ability to develop a technical grade product if its ongoing phase two test work continues to provide positive results.

AVZ’s market cap is now hovering around $130m on the back of its world-class Manono lithium-tin project that is located in the south-east Democratic Republic of Congo. The project plays host to a tier-one 400m tonne resource grading 1.65% lithium oxide and 715 parts per million tin.

Despite the lithium market coming off its highs last year, giant Australian conglomerate, Wesfarmers, still paid $776m for 50% of Kidman Resources’ Mt Holland project that holds a resource of just 189 million tonnes going 1.5% lithium oxide.

The outcome of AVZ’s definitive feasibility study will be intriguing given that Manono’s grade is 10% higher than Mt Holland and its known resource volume is more than double.


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