- AVZ Minerals (AVZ) has progressed talks with the Congolese government in a bid to set up a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) for the Manono project
- If the company can win approval for the SEZ it would provide considerable economic upside for the lithium and tin project
- Weeks of consultation culminated in a two-day workshop with key governmental officials, with recommendations to be submitted to the Industry minister
- Major infrastructure works and financial incentives and exemptions were top of the agenda as AVZ seeks to get Manono off the ground
- The company could enjoy exemptions or reductions in taxes, duties and royalty payments, though the finer details of the SEZ are yet to be finalised
- AVZ Minerals is trading 2.08 per cent lower for 9.4 cents
AVZ Minerals (AVZ) has progressed talks with the Congolese government in a bid to set up a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) for the Manono project.
If the company can win approval for the SEZ, it would provide considerable economic upside for the lithium and tin project.
Talk the talk
Key Congolese Government agencies met with AVZ staff and legal counsel on October 20 as part of a two-day workshop to discuss the SEZ.
The workshop was attended by officials from the offices of the Minister for Industry, the Minister for Finance, the Minister of Economy, the National Agency for Industrial Promotion (ANAPI), the Ministry of Environment, the Minister for Mines and the Minister for Hydraulic Resources and Electricity.
The workshop followed several weeks of consultation between AVZ and Congolese government advisors to progress the Manono SEZ agreement.
Top of the agenda was necessary infrastructure works, including the Mpiana
Mwanga Hydro Electric Power Plant rehabilitation, the Manono to Kabondo
Dianda road refurbishment, and the Lualaba River crossing.
AVZ also submitted a framework for economic incentives for consideration and inclusion within the proposed Manono SEZ regional development framework.
The key findings and recommendations from the workshop will be submitted to the Minister of Industry, who will, in turn, submit his report to the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers for consideration and execution.
The SEZ application process faced heavy headwinds when COVID-19 struck, triggering travel bans in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and limiting the availability of Congolese government representatives.
With the final stages of consultation between AVZ and the DRC government now complete, the fate of the Manono SEZ lies with the bureaucrats.
AVZ Managing Director Nigel Ferguson says he's optimistic about the outcome.
"We are excited with the very recent progress achieved with the Congolese government and look forward to a positive outcome being reached in terms of creating a workable and transparent SEZ agreement for the mutual benefit of the Manono region," Nigel said.
"A positive outcome will result in significant economic benefits for the company and the Manono Territory by reducing the largest area of financial impact on the Manono Project, as well as delivering a major catalyst for the redevelopment and invigoration of the socio-economic pulse of the Manono region," he added.
While the finer details of the final agreement remain unknown, the exemptions and incentives offered under the agreement could be of substantial benefit for AVZ.
A memorandum of understanding between the DRC government and AVZ in February provides for "exemptions or reductions [...] on direct or indirect taxes, domestic duties and taxes, national, provincial and municipal royalties, [and] import or export duties payable in the Democratic Republic of Congo."
AVZ Minerals is trading 2.08 per cent lower for 9.4 cents at 10:19am AEDT.