AVZ Minerals (ASX: AVZ) has released its much-awaited mineral resource for its flagship Manono lithium project in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the company claiming the maiden resources positions Manono as the “largest hard rock spodumene deposit” in the world.
The initial resource is based on the Roche Dure pegmatite and totals 259.9 million tonnes grading 1.63% lithium for 4.25Mt of contained lithium oxide.
Additional credits of tin and tantalum are also within the resource and sit at 219,000t of tin and 11,200t of tantalum.
According to AVZ, the resource is only calculated on 980m, or 50%, of the pegmatite’s known strike length.
Also unusual for a maiden resource, the estimate is classified as measure, indicated and inferred – boosting the company’s confidence in the initial calculation.
“Manono is now confirmed as the world’s largest lithium deposit, with the second highest grade globally,” AVZ managing director Nigel Ferguson said.
“Additionally, there is considerable advantage in having a significant tin component, which should help to reduce operating costs by providing valuable by-product credit,” he noted.
Mr Ferguson also pointed out the resource contained low contaminants, with an average grade the deleterious element iron of 0.88%, which is the smallest out of other ASX-listed hard rock lithium deposits.
The resource was calculated using assay data from 31 drill holes and geological information from 42 holes.
Data remaining from 11 holes will be incorporated into a planned resource upgrade, with drilling ongoing to the north and south of the known estimate expected to expand it further.
“We are encouraged by the results of the drilling, which is continuing at the moment, but which couldn’t be included in this mineral resource,” Mr Ferguson said.
“This work has clearly demonstrated that Manono will continue to grow significantly and is underpinned by the maiden mineral resource.”
He added the company will now “fast-track” its feasibility study, with the view to advancing into production “as quickly as possible”, with key elements of the work underway.
The second drilling stage will involve 70 holes for 20,000m to test extensions to the known resource, as well as the Mpete, Tempete and Carrier de L’Est pegmatites within the project.
Latest Manono drill results
At the same time as its maiden resource, AVZ released its latest batch of assay results, with a notable thick intersection of 236.86m at 1.56% lithium returned.
Another massively thick intersection was 223.75m at 1.44% lithium, with both yielding tin credits of 499 parts per million and 584ppm, respectively.
“It is interesting to note that with hole MO18DD030, there seems to be evidence of a new, large mineralised body beneath the Roche Dure body, which will require future follow-up work,” Mr Ferguson said.