Emerging Democratic Republic of Congo lithium producer AVZ Minerals (ASX: AVZ) reported that bench tests have confirmed the primary lithium sulphate (PLS) from the proposed Manono mine is suitable as battery feedstock.
And an independently tested planned production flow sheet shows that PLS with greater than 80% lithium content can be produced from Manono.
Kingston Process Metallurgy of Kingston, Ontario, conducted the bench-scale tests to produce 1.5kg of PLS from 9kg of Manono spodumene.
Acid roasting was conducted at different ratios.
AVZ says successful roasting within the expected design ranges was achieved, and this was followed by water leaching for lithium recoveries between 84% and 88%.
Managing director Nigel Ferguson said Kingston’s test work provides further confirmation of the quality of the Manono product.
“It is pleasing to have independent confirmation of our proposed lithium sulphate plant process as well as verification that our product is suitable for feedstock for battery plants,” he added.
Drilling, camp construction under way
Meanwhile, field operations are continuing.
At the Roche Dure pit, drilling below the floor began on Monday after the three-week Christmas break.
The eighth hole still has the final 30m to be drilled, and will be followed by the other two holes.
This work should be completed by the end of January and assay results will be used to update the project’s geological resource figures.
In addition, the geotechnical program continues at Roche Dure.
Samples of both soil and rock from the previous 10-hole geotechnical drilling program and the 38 test pits have been sent to Johannesburg for testing.
The results will be used in the foundation design for the processing plant.
Further site work at the Manono camp has begun, with the camp expected to house about 250 workers who will be engaged to build the processing plant and associated mine infrastructure.
Six of the seven required environmental and social impact assessment certificates have been received, with the final application to be submitted during the present quarter.
In regard to the project tenders, all of these have been adjudicated and contracts will be awarded following the company’s final investment decision.
The definitive feasibility study for Manono showed a pay-back period of 1.5 years pre-tax, a mine life of more than 20 years and pre-production capital of US$545.5 million including transport upgrades and rehabilitation of a hydro-electric power plant.