As demand for the lithium-ion batteries used to power electric vehicles increases, so too will the need for key battery metals such as lithium, cobalt and graphite, and up-and-comer nickel.
The green energy transition has taken over news headlines around the world, as governments and automakers look for ways to strengthen supply chains for raw materials.
For investors interested in jumping into the battery metals space, here’s a list of the top battery metals stocks on the ASX by market cap. All data was obtained using TradingView’s stock screener on August 24, 2021.
1. Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN)
Market cap: AU$9.65 billion; current share price: AU$52.09
Mineral Resources is a leading mining services provider with a particular focus on the iron ore and hard-rock lithium sectors in Western Australia. Its current lithium projects include Mount Marion and Wodgina.
The Mount Marion lithium project, which is located in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, is jointly owned by Mineral Resources and top lithium producer Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium (OTC Pink:GNENF,SZSE:002460). The asset was initially expected to produce 206,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of spodumene concentrate, but a current upgrade project is underway to increase production to 450,000 tpa of all-in 6 percent spodumene concentrate.
In December 2018, the company entered a 50/50 joint venture with top producer Albemarle (NYSE:ALB) for its Wodgina hard-rock lithium project, which will produce spodumene concentrate and, in the future, lithium hydroxide. Wodgina, considered the world’s largest hard-rock lithium deposit, has a JORC mineral resource of 233 million tonnes and an inaugural probable hard-rock reserve in the Cassiterite pit of 142.4 million tonnes.
2. Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS)
Market cap: AU$6.6 billion; current share price: AU$2.25
Headquartered in Perth, Pilbara Minerals operates its 100 percent owned Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum asset in Western Australia. The operation consists of two processing plants: the Pilgan plant, located on the northern side of the Pilgangoora area, which produces a spodumene concentrate and a tantalite concentrate, and the Ngungaju plant, located to the south, which produces a spodumene concentrate.
The company, which declared commercial production in 2019, has partnerships with Ganfeng Lithium, General Lithium, Great Wall Motor Company (OTC Pink:GWLLF,HKEX:2333), POSCO (NYSE:PKX), CATL (SZSE:300750) and Yibin Tianyi.
Earlier this year, Pilbara Minerals completed the acquisition of Altura Lithium following a cash payment of US$155 million. The company is working on an updated combined Pilgangoora project JORC mineral resource, which is scheduled for release in the September quarter of 2021.
3. Orocobre (ASX:ORE)
Market cap: AU$3.13 billion; current share price: AU$9.18
Orocobre is an industrial chemicals and minerals company operating a portfolio of lithium, potash and boron projects and facilities in the Puna region of Northern Argentina.
The company has built, in partnership with Toyota Tsusho (TSE:8015) and the investment division of the Jujuy provincial government, the first large-scale, greenfield, brine-based lithium project in about 20 years at the Salar de Olaroz, with planned production of 42,500 tpa of low-cost lithium carbonate. Additionally, Orocobre and Toyota Tsusho have commenced construction of a 10,000 tpa lithium hydroxide plant in Naraha, Japan.
In 2021, Orocobre made news headlines after it announced its merger of equals with Australia’s Galaxy Resources in a AU$4 billion deal to create a top five lithium company.
Galaxy has been advancing plans to develop the Sal de Vida lithium brine and potash project in Argentina; it also owns the Mount Cattlin mine in Ravensthorpe, Western Australia, which is currently producing spodumene and tantalum concentrate, as well as the James Bay lithium pegmatite project in Quebec, Canada.
The company has recently unveiled its new name as Allkem, which is waiting for shareholder approval.
1. Jervois Global (ASX:JRV)
Market cap: AU$666.25 million; current share price: AU$0.44
Jervois Global is primarily focused on cobalt, but maintains significant nickel and copper exposure through its development and refinery asset portfolio.
The company holds interests in the construction-stage Idaho Cobalt Operations, situated in Idaho, US, as well as the development-stage Nico Young deposit in Australia and the São Miguel Paulista refinery in São Paulo, Brazil, which is the largest nickel-cobalt refinery in Latin America.
In 2021, Jervois agreed to acquire 100 percent of Freeport Cobalt, the Finland-based cobalt-refining and specialty products business retained by Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE:FCX) and other co-owners following the sale of certain refining and battery materials activities to Umicore (OTC Pink:UMICF,EBR:UMI) in 2019.
2. Sunrise Energy Metals (ASX:SRL)
Market cap: AU$129.23 million; current share price: AU$1.57
Formerly called Clean TeQ, Sunrise Energy Metals is progressing its Sunrise battery materials complex in New South Wales utilising its Clean-iX technology. The Sunrise project is one of the largest and most cobalt-rich nickel laterite deposits in the world and is ready for development, with all key permits and approvals in place. The asset is also one of the largest and highest-grade scandium deposits globally.
A Robert Friedland-backed company, Sunrise Energy Metals is expecting its project to deliver over US$16 billion in revenue, along with average annual post-tax free cash flow of US$308 million over its first 25 years.
3. Cobalt Blue Holdings (ASX:COB)
Market cap: AU$70.14 million; current share price: AU$0.24
Cobalt Blue Holdings is an exploration and project development company that is working on advancing the Broken Hill cobalt project in New South Wales.
The mineral resource estimate for the asset comprises 123 million tonnes at 782 parts per million cobalt equivalent (660 parts per million cobalt and 7.3 percent sulfur) for 81,400 tonnes of contained cobalt (at a cobalt equivalent cut off of 275 parts per million).
1. Syrah Resources (ASX:SYR)
Market cap: AU$615.29 million; current share price: AU$1.27
Syrah Resources has set its focus on its flagship Balama graphite operation in Mozambique and a downstream active anode material facility in the US.
Balama is the largest integrated natural graphite mine and processing plant globally as measured by annual flake concentrate production capacity. The asset has over 50 years of mine life and is capable of producing 350,000 tpa of graphite concentrate.
In addition, Syrah’s downstream processing site in Louisiana aims to provide an alternative to the existing Asia supply chain for battery anode supply, with the ability to serve the growing US and Europe markets.
2. Talga Group (ASX:TLG)
Market cap: AU$386.61 million; current share price: AU$1.33
Talga Group is a battery anode and graphene additives company headquartered in Perth. The company is building a European source of battery anode and graphene additives to offer graphitic products critical to its customers’ innovation and the shift towards a more sustainable world.
Talga Group’s wholly owned subsidiaries, Talga Battery Metals and Talga, operate the company’s natural mineral resource assets in Sweden. The main graphite deposit, Nunasvaara, which forms part of the company’s flagship Vittangi project, has a total resource of 19.5 million tonnes at 24 percent graphite.
3. EcoGraf (ASX:EGR)
Market cap: AU$373.36; current share price: AU$0.89
EcoGraf is building a diversified battery anode materials business to produce high-purity graphite products for the lithium-ion battery and advanced manufacturing markets. According to the company, over US$30 million has been invested to date to create two development-ready graphite businesses.
Once established, EcoGraf will operate a diversified portfolio, supplying high-quality Tanzanian natural flake graphite products through TanzGraphite to established markets in Asia and Europe, together with EcoGraf, a multi-hub development commencing in Kwinana, Western Australia; it will provide new global supply of environmentally responsible battery anode material for lithium-ion batteries.
The company’s Epanko graphite project is a long-life graphite project located in Tanzania. It is forecast to produce 60,000 tpa of natural flake graphite products, and during its initial 18 years of operation is expected to generate annual EBITDA of US$44.5 million with a 38.9 percent internal rate of return and pre-tax net present value of US$211 million.
1. BHP (ASX:BHP)
Market cap: AU$219.99 billion; current share price: AU$44.92
Mining giant BHP’s Nickel West is a fully integrated mine-to-market nickel business in Western Australia.
In that state, BHP has both high- and low-grade ore sources, with high-grade ore coming from the Cliffs and Leinster underground mines and the Rocky’s Reward open-pit mine, and low-grade ore coming from the Mount Keith open-pit mine. All ore is processed at Leinster, and is concentrated at a plant at Kambalda for sale to third parties, making BHP a vertically integrated operation wholly within Western Australia.
2. IGO (ASX:IGO)
Market cap: AU$7.02 billion; current share price: AU$9.19
IGO is the owner and operator of the Nova nickel-copper-cobalt operation in the Fraser Range, which is between Kalgoorlie and Esperance. Discovered in 2012, the project reached nameplate capacity by Q4 2017.
In 2020, Nova achieved total production of 30,436 tonnes of nickel, 13,772 tonnes of copper and 1,142 tonnes of cobalt at a cash cost of AU$2.41 per payable pound of nickel. For 2021, the company’s guidance is in the range of 27,000 to 29,000 tonnes.
3. Nickel Mines (ASX:NIC)
Market cap: AU$2.51 billion; current share price: AU$1.02
Nickel Mines is a producer of nickel pig iron, a key ingredient in the production of stainless steel. The company now holds 80 percent interests in the Hengjaya nickel and Ranger nickel projects, both of which operate two line rotary kiln electric furnace plants producing nickel pig iron within the Indonesia Morowali Industrial Park.
Nickel Mines also holds an 80 percent interest in the Hengjaya Mineralindo nickel mine, a large-tonnage, high-grade saprolite deposit located in the Morowali Regency of Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. In 2021, Nickel Mines acquired a 50 percent interest (to be increased to 80 percent) in the Angel nickel project.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Priscila Barrera, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
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