AVZ Minerals is set to make a $17.9m (A$25m) investment to support early works and exploration drilling at the Manono Project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

A portion of a recent A$75m capital raising, the funds are expected to help the firm maintain the Manono lithium and tin project’s progress timetable.

AVZ managing director Nigel Ferguson said: “This decision demonstrates the board’s confidence in receiving the support required to make the development of the Manono Project a reality and importantly, should maintain our project development timetable despite the award of the mining licence taking longer than we had previously anticipated.”

The investment will also be used to fund a resource extension drilling programme at the Roche Dure deposit.

The firm said that the deposit has the potential to significantly expand the Joint Ore Reserves Committee-compliant mineral resource and ore reserves estimate that was reported earlier.

Ferguson added: “The drilling programme has the potential to add significant value with respect to expanding the reserve life of the Roche Dure deposit whilst also identifying high-grade ore zones for initial feed to the plant, providing increased SC6 production volumes from the start of operations.”

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The company is planning to allocate around $13.6m (A$19m) for the early works programme during the second half of the 2021/2022 financial year while the remaining $4.3m (A$6m) will be used for additional resource drilling at Roche Dure deposit.

In September 2021, AVZ Minerals secured $240m in funding from Suzhou CATH Energy Technologies, a private equity firm jointly owned by Pei Zhenhua and Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL), to develop the Manono project.

In exchange, CATH would receive a 24% equity stake in a multi-faceted joint venture to develop the Manono Project.

Located 500km north of Lubumbashi, the project hosts the Roche Dure Mineral Resource, which is claimed to be one of the world’s largest undeveloped hard rock lithium deposits.