Chinese battery maker eyes Manono lithium
Perth, 12 March (Argus) — Perth-based lithium developer AVZ Minerals has signed a second agreement inside a week with a Chinese investment and offtake partner for its Manono lithium project in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
It agreed a memorandum of understanding with Beijing National Battery Technology Company (BNB), the largest supplier of batteries to China's bus industry. As part of its due diligence, BNB will visit the Manono project site in the DRC.
BNB owns more than 300 patents and six high performance lithium-ion production lines in Henan, Zhejiang, Hubei and Jiangxi.
BNB developed next generation lithium-ion phosphate and lithium-nickel-cobalt-manganese batteries which it expects to mass produce from 2020. It needs a long term lithium offtake source for this production.
AVZ last week signed a similar agreement with China's Guangzhou Tinci Materials Technology Company (Tinci). Tinci is the world's largest battery electrolyte manufacturer and supplies a large portion of the global battery electrolyte market.
Both MOUs will move towards formalising investment as well as long term offtake deals from what could be one of the world's biggest hard rock lithium deposits.
AVZ has not yet declared a JORC-compliant mineral resource for the project. But its exploration target is 1.0-1.2bn t, grading 1.25-1.5pc lithium oxide. This includes 300-400mn t in the Roche Dure pegmatite alone.
AVZ owns 60pc of the project. The remaining 40pc is owned by a state-owned DRC company and a privately-owned DRC company.