It’s been a bumpy few months for lithium producers as COVID-19 resulted in a lower demand for battery metals across the globe. In fact, many mining companies halted their lithium projects with some even folding altogether.
However, as economies recover, particularly China, there are some green shoots starting to appear in the battery metals space. This bodes well for companies like AVZ Minerals who have been able to weather the storm and continue to develop their projects.
Developments at AVZ are on my radar following a company announcement last week that test work at its Manono project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) revealed that Manono is capable of producing clean primary lithium sulphate that is suitable for use in the production of batteries.
The news comes after the successful completion of preliminary metallurgical testing for the company’s planned lithium sulphate plant and production of 1.5 kg of primary lithium sulphate material.
AVZ engaged Kingston Process Metallurgy in Canada to carry out the independent testing. The primary lithium sulphate product produced by the metallurgical testing would make a highly suitable feedstock for battery plants.
In addition to the recent announcement, AVZ is continuing to develop Manono at a steady pace. For example, further site works have commenced at Manono’s Camp Colline to accommodate approximately 250 construction workers who will build the processing plant and associated mine infrastructure. Providing road access to house plots is currently underway along with the collection and storage of new building materials.
Furthermore, six of the seven required Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) certificates have been received, with the seventh ESIA application to be submitted in Q1 2021.
What makes this news so important? Manono is one of the world’s largest lithium-rich LCT (lithium, caesium, tantalum) pegmatite deposits. Developing the project doesn’t just bode well for investors but for the DRC as well, economically and socially. It also comes at a time when there is a renewed interest in battery metals and Manono is well placed to take advantage of this trend.