Perth-based AVZ Minerals is set to have all required permits and licences approved by the Democratic Republic of Congo government in the coming weeks at its flagship Manono hard rock lithium and tin project. Final approval of the mining licence is due to follow propelling the company to the cusp of reaching bankable status amid intense global interest and the background of a green battery revolution.
AVZ reported it has recently had its Environmental and Social Impact Assessment, “ESIA” signed and approved by the Direction de Protection de l’Environnement Minier, or “DPEM” under the authority of the Ministry of Mines. The approval is a significant step towards the company obtaining the Permis d’Exploitation, or the all-important licence to mine.
In addition to the approval of the ESIA, AVZ will also require technical approval of the definitive feasibility study, or “DFS” by the Directorate of Mines along with Cadastre Minier, or “CAMI” approval. According to the company this process is currently under review and progressing “very well”.
All of the pending permit requirements, including the Mining Licence, Mpiana Mwanga Hydro-Electric Power Plan (HEPP) Agreement, Collaboration Development Agreement and the proposed Manono Special Economic Zone (MSEZ) is on track and the Company is rapidly progressing towards finalising a Bankable Feasibility Study and securing project financing, with a Final Investment Decision expected in Q4 2021.
AVZ says it is committed to developing a good working relationship with the newly elected DRC government and that commitment looks to be paying early dividends. Earlier this month company representatives met with a high-ranking DRC government delegation with the objective of considering the Collaboration Development Agreement between the DRC government and AVZ. Subsequently, based on the body of work submitted by AVZ, the delegation provided unanimous support to the Manono Project.
In the coming weeks the company has said a further meeting with the Council of Ministers is scheduled resulting in a final decision on the Collaboration Development Agreement, which encompasses support of the development of natural resources and infrastructure such as roads, water and electricity.
With the DFS looming and a final investment decision fast approaching, it is likely the company’s chief financial officer has been equally busy spruiking the project’s economics with various commercial banks, finance brokers, private equity investors and non-commercial lenders to secure funding. Headlined by a stand-out EBITDA averaging US$380 million per annum across the original 20-year life of mine, the company shouldn’t have any troubles getting a hearing.
All going well for AVZ – and it looks like all the ducks are lining up neatly in a row – once the mining licence is awarded the final Bankable Feasibility Study will be announced with a final investment decision earmarked by the end of this year.
On a side note, AVZ recently increased its interest in the Manono Project to 75 per cent from 60 per cent by exercising the option to purchase Dathomir’s minority shareholding of 15 per cent equity in Dathcom Mining for US$20 million. It’s nod of confidence in the project from AVZ in what is shaping up as a true Goliath of a project.
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