Lithium hopeful AVZ Minerals (ASX: AVZ) has inked a 20,000m drilling contract with Equity Drilling for its Manono lithium project in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the three-month exploration campaign due to kick-off imminently.
Diamond and reverse circulation drilling will initially target the Roche Dure pegmatite which has previously returned lithium oxide grading 1.66% and 1.57%.
Earlier this week, Small Caps reported initial mineral characterisation of Roche Dure samples supported the prospect’s potential for “high value ore”, due to its simple composition and low-level waste elements. These characteristics make the ore valuable to the lithium battery industry which has a forecast worth of US$77 billion by 2024, according to Transparency Market Research.
Exploration at the entire Manono project is targeting up to 1.2 billion tonnes grading 1.5% lithium oxide, with up to 400 million tonnes projected from Roche Dure alone.
According to AVZ Minerals, the Roche Dure pegmatite has an estimated thickness of 220m and 2,100m in strike.
However, AVZ Minerals cautions these targets are conceptual and are yet to be defined to regulatory compliance standards.
AVZ Minerals executive chairman Klaus Eckhof said Equity Drilling has a proven record of professional conduct within Africa.
“We look forward to announcing commencement of drilling at the project in the near future and subsequently reporting on what we expect to be the first resource at Manono as part of a staged release of resources estimations,” Mr Eckhof said.
AVZ Minerals owns 60% of the Manono lithium project, which is believed the world’s largest known hard rock lithium source.
Also prospective for tin, Manono was mined for this mineral between 1919 and 1982.
In less than a month, AVZ Minerals’ share price has soared 120% from $0.10 to yesterday’s close of $0.22.