AVZ Minerals is on track to commence construction of the Manono lithium project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the September quarter.
The company plans to make a final investment decision in the June quarter, clearing the pathway to the award of its process plant engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract.
A contender for the EPC contract is Mincore, which also received a 12-week front end engineering and design (FEED) contract for Manono last week.
Upon this FEED contract award announcement, AVZ managing director Nigel Ferguson said progressing the design of the Manono project at this time was standard practice and had the benefit of bringing the technical design parameters to finality.
“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,” he said.
The Manono project is envisaged to have a throughput of 4.5 million tonnes a year over a 20-year mine life.
AVZ believes there will be a significant supply deficit of lithium, equivalent of 5.6 million tonnes of spodumene, from 2024.
This could prompt new projects to come online and the restart of projects that were placed on care and maintenance, according to AVZ.
AVZ is expecting to receive permits and environmental approvals in the June quarter at the latest.
It is also aiming to reduce Manono’s strip ratio by 25 per cent by converting nearly 11 million tonnes of rock from waste to ore.
AVZ plans to transport Manono’s products via roads and rail to Dar es Salaam port in Tanzania and Lobito port in Angola.
The capital costs are valued at $US545 million ($706 million).
AVZ co-owns the Manono project with the Demoractic Republic of the Congo Government (75 per cent and 25 per cent, respectively).