AVZ Minerals

WINNER: PROSPECT RESOURCES

Prospect Resources is likely the most advanced junior in the lithium space in Africa as it looks to product first lithium from its Arcadia project in Zimbabwe.

This positions it at the forefront of lithium development in Africa.

This article first appeared in Mining Elites in Africa 2019

Following completion of the pre-feasibility study in June 2017 (updated in March 2018), the company is now focusing on securing offtake and funding plans for development of Arcadia towards production.

Key outcomes of its updated pre-feasibility study include a life of mine of over 20 years based on an ore reserve of 26.9 Mt grading 1.31% Li2O and 12 8ppm Ta2O5.

Cash costs of USD 287/t lithia concentrate produced are envisaged over the LoM and a low start up CAPEX is envisaged. The updated PFS has also increased mineral resources to 43.2 Mt @ 1.41 % Li2O and 119 ppm Ta2O5.

Judges’ comments:

Jim Pooley: “This is a ‘pretty good’ spodumene resource and kudos to the company operating in the current Zimbabwean economy,”

FINALIST: SYRAH RESOURCES

Syrah Resources’ Balama graphite project in Mozambique has had a phenomenal start since commissioning its operation.

Perhaps most impressive was the company’s ability and foresight to see the upcoming growth in the batteries metal market well ahead of time – which enabled it to be one of the first new graphite miners in Africa since the battery metals market boom.

Balama production is targeted to supply traditional industrial graphite markets and emerging technology markets. Syrah has successfully completed extensive product certification test work with several major battery producers for the use of Balama spherical graphite in the anode of lithium-ion batteries

Marketing activities have stepped up to include binding sales agreements with battery anode manufacturers. Syrah is targeting production of 160,000 - 180,000 tons in 2018 and 250,000 - 300,000 tons in 2019 of graphite concentrate based on the current demand profile.

In addition, the company is in a robust financial position to achieve its key objectives, which include completing the ramp-up of Balama through to positive cash flow, progressing the BAM strategy to the end of 2019, and undertaking further evaluation of the Vanadium Resource at Balama.

Syrah Resources has also made a long-term commitment to Mozambique, via the delivery of the Balama graphite operation, and is genuinely committed to the sustainability of the operation for the benefit of the people of Mozambique.

The lithium-ion battery sector continues to advance at a rapid rate and creates substantial opportunity for Syrah Resources – with the delivery of its objectives the company will be best placed to maximise this opportunity for the benefit of its shareholders and the surrounding communities.

Judges’ comments:

Jim Pooley: “Syrah Resources spotted the market gap early and got in there and is now reaping the rewards.  It has good resources, it is close to the coast from a logistics perspective and the company is well placed to do very well -particularly if it gets offtake signed up soon.”

HIGHLY COMMENDED: AVZ MINERALS

AVZ Minerals is blazing the trail for future lithium development in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with its first mover advantage in the highly-prospective Manono region in the south of the country, previously unexplored for this prized battery ingredient.

The company’s Manono project, said to potentially be one of the largest lithium-rich, tin, caesium, tantalum pegmatite deposits in the world, has garnered attention in recent months with a series of wide, high grade lithium intercepts.

AVZ Minerals has had quite a dramatic rise to fame following its acquisition of the Manono lithium project in December 2016, which coincided with the global boom in demand for lithium, driven mainly by the opening of a new market – its use in the manufacture of the batteries needed to store energy for the burgeoning electric vehicle sector.

The company has proved up a JORC-compliant total measured, indicated and inferred resource recently of 259.9 Mt grading 1.63% Li2O (spodumene) containing 4.25 Mt of lithium oxide (Li2O), 219 000 t of tin as cassiterite grading 844 ppm tin and 11 200 t of tantalum grading 43 ppm Ta2O5 tantalum (estimated on an approximate 50% of the Roche Dure pegmatite) at the beginning of August, and is underway with a scoping study, which is being led by Perth-based independent engineering group CPC Engineering.

Judges’ comments:

Jim Pooley: “Significant high-grade resource for spodumene with some credit minerals as well. However, it will probably need the grade as the deposit is in the DRC which is difficult to operate in.”

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