AVZ Minerals (ASX: AVZ) has secured Melbourne-based engineering firm Mincore Pty Ltd to undertake a 12-week front end engineering and design (FEED) study for the Manono lithium and tin project in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The study aims to confirm previously outlined operational scenarios including locking-down the proposed process flowsheet and verifying all bulk material quantities and pricing.
It is expected the study will also validate the selected equipment pricing, finalise the execution schedule and provide “issued for construction” early works drawings.
As part of the contract, Mincore has agreed to accept part payment in AVZ shares. The shares will be issued at the last previous closing price on the day of the final invoice.
AVZ managing director Nigel Ferguson said progressing the design of Manono at this time was “standard practice”.
He said it has the “benefit” of bringing the technical design parameters to finality and de-risking the estimated schedule, and proposed capital and operating costs.
“It will also save significant time moving forward, as the results of the FEED study will be delivered to the successful company that is awarded the process plant EPC contract.”
AVZ has also shorted-listed Mincore to execute the main process plant EPC contract for Manono.
As AVZ advances Manono towards development, the company is anticipating final permits and environmental approvals before the end of June this year.
Manono hosts the world’s largest hard rock spodumene resource of 400 million tonnes at 1.65% lithium and proved and probable reserves of 93Mt at 1.58% lithium.
AVZ is looking to develop a 20-year operation with a throughput rate of 4.5Mt per annum. However, the company noted there was potential to “significantly extend” the mine life.
Initial spodumene output of 700,000tpa is anticipated, with AVZ looking at processing this to generate 46,000tpa of primary lithium sulphate for the battery sector.
Additional credits for by-products tin, tantalum and niobium have been identified.
AVZ plans to make a final investment decision to develop Manono during the June quarter.