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AVZ Minerals (ASX:AVZ) officially has the largest measured and indicated lithium resource on the planet — with it sitting on 269 million tonnes grading 1.25 percent lithium oxide at its Manono Project in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

While overall tonnage has not increased (400Mt), the proportion of resources in the measured and indicated categories has jumped by over 40 percent, with a total of 67 percent of the resources at Manono now either measured or indicated.

The jump in measured and indicated resources comes as a result of analysis of 86 drill holes drilled on a 1.6km strike length at the project, with an additional five holes’ worth of data allowing a solid understanding of the geological model at the project.

The new numbers for Manono
The new numbers for Manono

The new upgrade also includes fresh numbers for the tin and tantalum resource (816 parts per million and 36ppm respectively) allowing this to be included in future financial modelling for the project — giving it a nice bonus on what is primarily a lithium play.

The average concentration of iron oxide, a contaminant, in the Manono resource has also been reduced as a result of further evaluation, decreasing from 0.99 percent to 0.96 percent.

AVZ managing director Nigel Ferguson described the receipt of the new numbers as a “major step forward for the company’s plans for development of the Manono Project.”

“This update provides further assurances as to the demonstrated world-class scale, grade and nature of the Manono Project,” he said. “We are encouraged by the results of the upgrade in resource categories which were expected given the results of the drilling program.

“The greatly increased confidence level in sections of the Roche Dure Mineral Resource is more than sufficient to support the production schedules and financial modelling within the 5Mtpa scoping study, which is now close to completion.”

AVZ completed a scoping study on a 2Mtpa operation at Manono last year. It has since started a scoping study on an expanded operation.

These studies will inform a definitive feasibility study on Manono, which is now due in the first quarter of next year.

The slight delay in the DFS delivery is not anticipated to push back commissioning of the project, which is still slated to commence in the September quarter of 2021.

Upcoming drilling

While the boost in resources for the company was on the back of existing drill samples, AVZ isn’t resting on its laurels.

Instead, it will start drilling at the Roche Dure pit once it has been dewatered and access gained to the pit floor later this year.

This access will allow AVZ to drill for a possible extension to its inferred project figure — as it’s not been drilled to date.

While 95 percent of the strike at Roche Dure has been drilled and the pegmatite has been drilled down to 480m below surface, the bulk of the down-dip extensions of the entire 1.6km strike length remains to be tested by the drill bit.

Additional drilling could see the project’s inferred resource boosted, while also moving some of the current indicated resources into the more solid indicated and measured categories.

Meanwhile, it still hasn’t drilled the M’Pete and Tempete pegmatites just north of Roche Dure — with a small additional program of drilling slated with an eye towards developing the pegmatites into a high-grade stock feed for the project.

About AVZ and Roche Dure

AVZ has a 60 percent stake in Manono — which is the world’s largest undeveloped hard rock lithium project with an average grade above 0.5 percent.

Independent research by Roskill confirmed AVZ’s Manono has the capability to produce in excess of 300ktpa lithium carbonate equivalent, enough to meet all lithium demand in 2019 — although this study did not take into account the new numbers.

A scoping study created in October last year indicated that Manono could process 2 million tonnes of lithium oxide per year, producing 440,00 tonnes of concentrate per year with an average grade of 5.8 percent.

 

This content is produced by Star Investing in commercial partnership with AVZ Minerals.  This content does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.