"Mining tailings is not only the cleanest form of mining but also the cheapest: Except for rehabilitation costs, mining costs are negligible."
Could you share the highlights of your Mineral Resource Estimate (MRE) at the Manono Lithium Tailings project?
Our Maiden Resource Estimate indicates a Total combined Resource of 12,09 million tonnes with an average grade of 0,64% Li2O, with half of this in the Measured and indicated Category. This MRE is taken from 13,000 m of drilling on approximately half of the total volume of the dumps and tailings from the historical mine.
What are the next steps now on the Manono Lithium project?
This resource estimate is highly valuable seeing that it allows us to proceed to a first phase project that would allow us to enter into production very quickly. Our major competitive advantage compared to other developing peers is speed to market and low cost mining. Our resource is sitting on surface already crushed and ready to be transported to a process plant to produce 6% Li2 spodumene concentrate (SC6)
We have already initiated a Pre-economic Assessment, and Social and Environmental Impact Assessments so that, by the end of Q2 2023 we will have completed our Feasibility Study on the initial plant slated to produce 100,000 t/y of SC6 for a period of 6-8 years.
Additionally, we have planned an extensive drilling campaign on the hard rock Pegmatite Corridor southwest from our tailings project, as well as additional resource definition work on the tailings project with an objective to increase our overall resources in lithium, tin and tantalum.
Do you think there is scope for more tailing valorization projects like Monono in Africa?
Definitely, there will be more projects like Manono in Africa. Manono is a lithium-caesium-tantalum (LCT) pegmatite deposit, but it was only mined for tin between 1910 and 1980. At that time, lithium did not have the economical value it has today. I believe there are more tailings products in Africa that can be brought back to life by reviewing existing data and going back on the ground to do further exploration and resource definition. Mining tailings is not only the cleanest form of mining but also the cheapest: Except for rehabilitation costs, mining costs are negligible.
What are the latest developments at your greenfield exploration project, the Southwest Pegmatite Corridor, and the newly acquired alluvial Lubule tin & tantalum development project?
Sitting Southwest of AVZ’s 400 million t resource, the Pegmatite Corridor is a 25 km long, 5 km wide corridor with extensive hard-rock lithium potential. We have done geochemical work together with a 100 km2 high-res aeromagnetic survey, and we are planning roughly 20,000 m combined Reverse Circulation and Diamond Drilling. The drilling program has started and we are hopeful for positive results by end Q2 2023.
The TiTan alluvial project is an opportunity to become cashflow positive at low risk. We have spent roughly US$10 million on a plant, we have the mining license and we are on track to start the operation by the end of this year. In early 2023, we can start commercial production and generate cash. Meanwhile, we are focused on securing firm offtake bids.
Could you summarize your financial strategy for the three projects in your portfolio?
To bring the Manono tailings project to Pre-Feasibility stage, we will need between US$15 to US$20 million. For the Southwest Pegmatite Corridor, we have started drilling, and with the raising of the US$15 to US$20 million, we can fund subsequent drilling campaigns. Tantalex is trading on the Frankfurt Exchange (Ticker: DW8), the Canadian Securities Exchange (Ticker: TTX), and, since this year, the US-OTCQB (Ticker: TTLXF); this later listing will give us more exposure to the American market, which has a strong liking for lithium among retail investors. Finally, once in production, TiTan should bring in revenues between US$20 to US$30 million per year, depending on tin prices.
How attractive are lithium, tin and tantalum for investors in today’s environment?
Lithium demand is only growing stronger. Tin and tantalum are niche markets controlled by a few players. Only about 2,000 tons of tantalum are produced every year, but there is no replacement for tantalum in electronics applications, which makes it a solid and growing market. With regards to tin, it is the glue that keeps everything together and with the worlds movement towards EVs, decarbonisation and greater dependence on electronic devices for everyday life, we see this as a market that has very strong fundamentals with consistent future demand growth.