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Democratic Republic of Congo home to largest hard rock lithium resource

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Global Mining Review,

As reported by Argus Media, the Manono lithium project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has confirmed its status as the world's largest hard rock lithium deposit.

A maiden mineral resource released by Australia-based AVZ Minerals, which owns 60% of the project in Tanganyika province about 500 km north of Lubumbashi, shows a measured, indicated and inferred resource of 259.9 million t grading 1.63% lithium oxide.

This put Manono above Australian producers Mineral Resources' Wodgina project of 234 million t and Pilbara Minerals' Pilgangoora project with 213 million t. Both hard rock lithium projects are in Western Australia. Manono also overtakes Birimian's Goulamina project in Mali with 103 million t as Africa's biggest lithium resource.

The world's largest lithium brine deposits are situated in the so-called lithium triangle straddling Chile, Argentina and Bolivia.

Manono other shareholders are state-owned La Congolaise D'exploration Miniere with 30% and privately owned Dathomir Mining 10%.

Manono's maiden mineral resource is estimated to contain 4.25 million t of lithium oxide, 219 000 t of tin as cassiterite and 11 200 t of tantalite. The resource comprises measured reserves of 43 million t, indicated at 104 million t and inferred of 112 million t categories. It has been estimated as a strike length of 980 million, or 50% of the Roche Dure pegmatite. Manono also has strike length areas to explore outside of the Roche Dure pegmatite.

A scoping study is under way on the project, which will possibly be followed by a feasibility study as the project's owners seek to fast-track development.

The maiden resource is a significant advance for the Manono project, confirming it as the world's largest lithium deposit, with the second highest grade globally, said AVZ Minerals' Managing Director Nigel Ferguson.

"Additionally, there is considerable advantage in having a significant tin component, which should help to reduce operating costs by providing a valuable by-product credit. Deleterious elements are all low and we are encouraged by the results of the ongoing drilling, some of which were not included in this mineral resource."

The DRC has considerable mineral resources, including the world's largest cobalt reserves and significant copper, zinc and gold reserves. But there are obstacles for mining companies operating in the country and issues for financial backers and consumers. These include poor infrastructure and logistics, political risk, child labour, conflict minerals and a continuing deadlock between the DRC government and foreign mining firms over proposed changes to mining royalties and taxes.

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African mining news Lithium mining news


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