AVZ Minerals (ASX: AVZ) is another step closer to receiving a mining licence for its flagship Manono lithium-tin project from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government following the approval of its environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA).
The final written ESIA was signed off by the Direction de Protection de l’Environement Minier (DPEM), the environmental protection department of the DRC’s Ministry of Mines.
This milestone brings AVZ closer to being awarded a mining licence and finalising a bankable feasibility study on the project ahead of making its final investment decision.
Mining licence approval process
Environmental approval of the EISA report by DPEM is the first step in the award process for a mining licence.
AVZ now awaits technical approval of the definitive feasibility study (DFS) report by the Directorate of Mines which it said is currently under review and “progressing very well”.
Cadastre Minier (CAMI) approval is then required, which AVZ said is not expected to be an issue. Following this approval process, a proposed ministerial decree drafted by CAMI would then be submitted to the Minister of Mines for final approval.
AVZ managing director Nigel Ferguson described the DPEM approval of the final ESIA as a “highly encouraging development and signifies the DRC government’s wider support for the Manono project”.
“All of the pending permit requirements, including the mining licence, Mpiana Mwanga hydro-electric power plant (HEPP) agreement, collaboration development agreement and the proposed Manono Special Economic Zone (MSEZ) is on track and the company is rapidly progressing towards finalising a bankable feasibility study and securing project financing, with a final investment decision expected in Q4 2021,” he said.
In terms of the bankable feasibility study, AVZ said a review of the financial model is “progressing well” with the study expected to be delivered once the mining licence is awarded.
Mr Ferguson said these approvals tick off many boxes with project financiers who are lined up to come on board.
“All factors are aligning around our project financing discussions, with the project on the cusp of reaching a bankable status and intense global interest in the green battery minerals sector.”
In today’s market update, AVZ said it is actively engaged with various commercial banks, finance brokers, private equity investors and non-commercial lenders such as Pan-African development finance institutions (DFIs) to secure funding for Manono’s development.
Today’s update follows news from earlier this week that drilling at the Carriere de l’Este pegmatite deposit within the Manono project had confirmed spodumene-rich zones for future infill resource estimation programs.
The results are expected to assist in targeting areas of higher grade material (greater than 2% lithium oxide) at shallow depths as potential spodumene concentrate feed material to Manono’s proposed processing plant.