Why are Leo Lithium shares suspended for the rest of the month?

Things go from bad to worse for this lithium share.

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Leo Lithium Ltd (ASX: LLL) shares were due to return to trade again on Tuesday.

However, as many readers may have suspected based on previous halts, the lithium developer's shares will not be returning as planned.

This morning, Leo Lithium has requested that its shares be suspended from trade until the start of October.

What's going on with Leo Lithium shares?

After being suspended for approximately a month and a half from 18 July, Leo Lithium was back on the ASX boards a couple of weeks ago on 4 September.

However, that return was short-lived, with management requesting a trading halt last week for the following reason:

The Company seeks the trading halt pending an announcement in relation to correspondence from the government of Mali. The halt has been requested until the earlier of the release of the announcement or the commencement of trade on Tuesday 19 September.

That request didn't give much away, other than the issue once again being correspondence from the Malian junta government.

However, today's suspension request adds a bit more colour to proceedings. It states:

The Company requests a voluntary suspension pending an announcement in relation to correspondence from the government of Mali and the application of the 2023 Mining Code to the Goulamina Lithium Project.

What's the 2023 mining code?

Late last month, according to Reuters, Mali's interim President Assimi Goita signed into law a new mining code.

This new mining code allows the military-led government to increase its ownership in projects across the country. The report reveals that it will allow the state and local investors to take stakes as high as 35% in mining projects compared with 20% now.

The government expects the move could more than double the sector's contribution to gross domestic product to around 20%.

Last week, Leo Lithium agreed to give 5% of the project to Chinese lithium giant Ganfeng Lithium in exchange for project funding. This reduced its stake to 45% and boosted Ganfeng Lithium's stake to 55%.

Should the government now take a 35% stake in the project, this could reduce Leo Lithium's interest in the project to just 27.5%. In the space of a matter of weeks, the company would have gone from joint ownership to a minority interest.

Not great news for shareholders, unfortunately. But once again, it highlights why investing in mining shares operating outside tier-one jurisdictions carries significant risk. Just ask AVZ Minerals Ltd (ASX: AVZ) shareholders who have not seen its shares trade in over a year due to a dispute over its lithium project in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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