AVZ Minerals says a maiden placer tin exploration target of up to 75 million cubic metres of contained cassiterite grading between 75 and 180 grams per cubic metre at its Manono project in the Democratic Republic of Congo underlines the potential for a standalone tin mine at one of the world’s largest emerging hard-rock lithium projects.
The exploration target of 25-75 million cubic metres of contained cassiterite comes on the back of an independent review of exploration records from previous mine operator at Manono, Zaïretain.
AVZ believes findings from the review provide evidence that both the lateritic eluvial and Likushi alluvial areas at Manono host near-surface cassiterite mineralisation.
Manono boasts a head-turning 400 million tonne resource going 1.65 per cent lithium oxide. AVZ last year released results of a definitive feasibility study on the 60 per cent owned project outlining robust economics for a proposed 20-year venture producing 700,000 tonnes per annum of high-grade spodumene concentrate and a further 46,000tpa of primary lithium sulphate .
Headline numbers from the DFS also included an estimated US$380m average annual EBITDA for the life of the mine, a post-tax payback period of just 2.25 years and net profit after tax for the life of the mine of US$3,779 million.
Discovery of cassiterite at Manono can be traced back all the way back to 1910. Historical operations produced a reported 180,000 tonnes of tin over 60 years, with the tin primarily sourced from eluvial, lateritic and hard rock pegmatite sources.
Pitting and drilling conducted by Zaïretain over the years defined a series of mineralised basal gravel zones throughout the Likushi Alluvial Plain going to depths down to 20m, with the gravel zones covered by a layer of overburden said to be void of mineralisation.
The underlying mineralised gravel layer is reported to be between 3m and 5m thick.
In total, a 14 sq. km area was used to define the alluvial exploration target.
It complements established hard rock tin and tantalum resources estimated for Manono.
AVZ reports a resource of 125 million tonnes going 175 parts per million tin and 26 parts per million tantalum in a low-grade tin domain at the project, with 275 million tonnes at 962 ppm tin and 38 ppm tantalum in a high-grade domain.
The DRC is renowned for its mineral riches with mining major Barrick Gold operating the Kibali gold mine in the country and Glencore having a significant presence.
Toronto-listed Ivanhoe Mines is currently developing the rich Kamoa-Kakula copper mine.
A tin price surging above US$30,000 per tonne bodes well for AVZ as it looks to unlock the full value of Manono and one of the world’s largest undeveloped lithium resources.
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