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Nickel is shaping up to be a vital metal in the age of technology. Here's a look at the five top ASX nickel-mining stocks by market cap.

Nickel is a diverse metal that is critical for both industry and technology.

While this lustrous, silvery base metal has historically been used to produce alloys such as stainless steel, its battery applications have become a major focus. Nickel is used to produce lithium-ion batteries, an essential component of electric vehicles (EVs) — a booming market that is sure to continue growing in the next decade.

Nickel prices rose steadily in 2021, soaring above US$20,000 per tonne as demand shot up after a period of decline in 2020. Analyst predictions for how the global nickel space will fare in 2022 are mixed, but in general stainless steel should continue driving the market, with nickel’s battery applications ramping up as EV sales accelerate.

Investors interested in nickel might look to Australia, the country that boasts the largest reserves of the metal worldwide. Read on to learn about the top five nickel companies on the ASX, ranked by market capitalization. All data was obtained on January 12, 2022, using TradingView's stock screener.

1. Independence Group

Market cap: AU$8.85 billion; current share price: AU$12

IGO (ASX:IGO) is a diversified miner that produces several different metals, but its focus is on its 100 percent owned Nova nickel-copper-cobalt project. Nova is based in Western Australia's Fraser Range and primarily produces nickel, with output of 30,436 tonnes of nickel in 2020 and 2021 guidance of 27,000 to 29,000 tonnes.

IGO is currently in talks to acquire Western Areas (ASX:WSA), another top Australian nickel-mining company, for AU$3.36 per share, which equates to AU$1.1 billion.

2. Nickel Mines

Market cap: AU$3.66 billion; current share price: AU$1.55

New South Wales-based Nickel Mines (ASX:NIC) produces nickel pig iron, a critical component in the manufacturing of stainless steel. The company is invested in several nickel-mining operations, with 80 percent interests in the Hengjaya nickel project, Ranger nickel project, Angel nickel project and Hengjaya Mineralindo nickel mine.

In December 2021, the company entered into an agreement to acquire 70 percent of Shanghai Decent’s Oracle nickel project. This project has the capacity for annual production of 36,000 tonnes of nickel, and the acquisition is set to be completed sometime in early 2022.

3. Western Areas

Market cap: AU$1.09 billion; current share price: AU$3.40

Western Areas (ASX:WSA) has several nickel-mining operations across Western Australia, such as its flagship Forrestania nickel project, which produces between 22,000 and 25,000 tonnes of nickel ore per year. The company's other nickel-focused assets include the Flying Fox and Odysseus nickel mines.

As mentioned, news hit in December 2021 that IGO plans to acquire Western Areas. The acquisition is still pending approval from Western Areas shareholders, but IGO expects it will be completed by April 2022.

4. Mincor Resources

Market cap: AU$864.56 million; current share price: AU$1.86

Mincor Resources (ASX:MCR) is set to commence nickel production at its Western Australia-based Kambalda nickel operations beginning in the first quarter of 2022. The company is also continuing to develop its Cassini nickel mine, as well as the Durkin North and Long projects at its Northern operations.

In mid-December 2021, Mincor Resources announced the extraction of the first ore at Durkin North, a positive sign that the project is on track for nickel production. Moreover, the ore was found about 36 metres ahead of the target site, suggesting that there may be another orebody to discover.

5. Panoramic Resources

Market cap: AU$553.75 million; current share price: AU$0.27

Perth-based base metals mining and exploration company Panoramic Resources (ASX:PAN) suspended operations at its 100 percent owned Savannah nickel sulphide mine in 2020, citing operational and pandemic-related issues as reasons for the closure. In April 2021, the company announced that it would be reopening Savannah.

In late December 2021, Savannah successfully completed its first shipment, which consisted of 10,865 tonnes of nickel-copper-cobalt to be delivered to Jinchuan Group International Resources (OTC Pink:JGRRF,HKEX:2362) for payment of AU$20.4 million. A second shipment is expected for February 2022.

This is an updated version of an article first published by the Investing News Network in 2018.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Isabel Armiento, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Cyprium Metals
Cyprium Metals

Cyprium Metals Limited (ASX: CYM) (“Cyprium” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce further assay results from 28 RC holes (for 7,504m) of the Nifty West drilling program. The drilling programme targeted a lightly drilled area, up-plunge of the former underground mine in the keel area of the Nifty Syncline, below the western end of the Nifty open pit (refer to Figure 1).

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Perth, Australia – Classic Minerals Limited has made significant progress at Kat Gap during the quarter as it strives to become a gold producer. Highlights of the quarter include: – Assay results returned for infill RC drilling testing the gap between oxide and deeper fresh rock high-grade gold mineralisation at Kat Gap. – Advancing engineering, mining and metallurgical studies at Kat Gap, and – IGO have made …

Perth, Australia (ABN Newswire) – Classic Minerals Limited (ASX:CLZ) has made significant progress at Kat Gap during the quarter as it strives to become a gold producer.

Highlights of the quarter include:

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Perth, Australia – Classic Minerals Limited is pleased to announce that, in accordance with the terms of its Earn In and Joint Venture Agreement with IGO Newsearch Pty Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of IGO Limited IGO has notified Classic of: its election to acquire a 51% interest in the Company’s Fraser Range tenements having earnt that interest by spending $1,500,000 on exploration of the Tenements; and its …

Perth, Australia (ABN Newswire) – Classic Minerals Limited (ASX:CLZ) (the Company or Classic) is pleased to announce that, in accordance with the terms of its Earn In and Joint Venture Agreement (Agreement) with IGO Newsearch Pty Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of IGO Limited (ASX:IGO) (together, IGO) (CLZ announcement to ASX dated 17 June 2019 refers), IGO has notified Classic of:

(a) its election to acquire a 51% interest in the Company’s Fraser Range tenements (Tenements), having earnt that interest by spending $1,500,000 on exploration of the Tenements; and

(b) its intention to spend a further $1,000,000 exploring the Tenements over the next 2 years to take its joint venture interest to 70%.

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Looking for the best-performing cobalt stocks on the ASX? Here's a look at the three top gainers of 2021.

Cobalt prices have soared this past year, with investors paying more attention to this battery metal.

A large reason for cobalt’s bullish behaviour is that it is used to manufacture lithium-ion batteries, which power electric vehicles (EVs) — as demand for EVs continues to rise, it's likely cobalt demand will remain strong too.

Currently the future of EVs looks bright — the market is growing quickly and is expected to boom over the next decade. In the first half of 2021 alone, EV sales ballooned by 160 percent, and by the end of the year, a total of 15 countries had announced measures to begin transitioning toward an all-electric future.

The three top cobalt-producing countries worldwide are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Russia and Australia — the last of which is investing in ramping up its production of the metal.

With that in mind, which Australian cobalt miners gained the most value in 2021? Read on to learn more about the three best cobalt companies on the ASX by year-to-date share price gains. All information was obtained on December 30, 2021, using TradingView's stock screener.

1. Jervois Global

Year-to-date gain: 63.89 percent; current share price: AU$0.59

Jervois Global (ASX:JRV) is best known for its Finland operations, which produce cobalt for chemical, catalyst, pigment, powder metallurgy and — most significantly — battery applications. The company is currently in the process of launching its new Idaho Cobalt Operations (ICO) and is on track to become the first US cobalt miner.

On December 15, Jervois announced an update on ICO, saying first ore is expected in August 2022, with sustainable production expected by December 2022. The estimated capital expenditure required to stay on schedule has risen to US$99.1 million, up from US$92.6 million, with mine engineering 64 percent complete.

2. Cobalt Blue Holdings

Year-to-date gain: 177.78 percent; current share price: AU$0.50

Cobalt Blue Holdings (ASX:COB) is a rare cobalt-only company, and defines itself by its planned ethical and sustainable extraction and production processes. The firm's flagship New South Wales-based Broken Hill project is slated to produce an average of 3,500 to 3,600 tonnes per year of cobalt once in operation.

In December 2021, Cobalt Blue Holdings announced it has executed a memorandum of understanding with the State of Queensland, acting through the Department of Resources, to assess opportunities for the recovery of cobalt (as well as any coexisting base and precious metals) from mine waste.

3. Australian Mines

Year-to-date gain: 31.25 percent; current share price: AU$0.21

Australian Mines (ASX:AUZ) is aiming to supply metals to the growing EV industry, with a focus on ethical and sustainable production. Its flagship Queensland-based Sconi nickel-cobalt project boasts a mine life of over 30 years and will be capable of processing 2 million tonnes of ore annually.

In late October, Australian Mines reported on its quarterly activities, including an agreement for Korea-based LG Energy Solution, a top global producer of EV batteries, to buy 100 percent of the Sconi project’s nickel-cobalt hydroxide output over an initial six year term. The future agreement indicates that LG Energy Solution will buy a projected 7,000 tonnes of cobalt from Australian Mines over the six year period.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Isabel Armiento, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Australia’s tech sector is making headway on an international level. Learn about the Australia tech outlook and what’s next in the country.

Australia’s technology sector is garnering attention with advancements in fintech, cleantech and gaming, among other exciting industries.

The country’s characteristically resilient economy — which had not experienced a recession in nearly 30 years prior to COVID-19 lockdowns — has provided a sturdy backdrop for its growing tech sector. As economies worldwide face uncertainty, Australia’s job market continues to defy global trends.

In fact, as COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, Australia’s employment level rose by a record 366,100 jobs in November 2021, surpassing projections of a 205,000 turnaround, as per a Reuters report.

Australia tech outlook: Strong international players

With Australia’s strong economy in mind, companies at an international scale have been securing footholds in the country’s technology market in recent years.

For instance, Japanese tech conglomerate Softbank (OTC Pink:SFTBY,TSE:9984) began investing in Australia in 2016 via the acquisition of AI and robotics firm ST Solutions. ST Solutions' flagship robot, Pepper, can greet customers in 21 languages using emotional response analytics. Pepper is at the forefront of Softbank’s robot initiatives.

Similarly, in April 2019, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) launched its inaugural commercial drone delivery system in North Canberra, Australia. The service — called Wing — delivers food, coffee and retail items by drone to residences. Orders are placed through a mobile app.

More recently, Google announced plans to invest AU$1 billion in Australia over the next five years, including in tech startups and a regional research hub in Sydney. "Australia can help lead the world's next wave of innovation, harnessing technology to improve lives, create jobs, and make progress," Google CEO Sundar Pichai said.

Some of the biggest names in global tech are also taking positions in Aussie-grown tech startups. In May 2020, Chinese gaming and social media firm Tencent Holdings (OTC Pink:TCHEY,HKEX:0700) bought a 5 percent stake in Australian buy now, pay later company Afterpay (ASX:APT,OTC Pink:AFTPF)

As these large tech companies invest in Australia, tech unicorns (startups with valuations of more than a billion dollars) have garnered attention. According to CB Insights, there are currently six Australian unicorn tech companies: Canva, Culture Amp, Judo Capital, Safety Culture, Go1, Pet Circle and Airwallex.

Design startup Canva is estimated to be worth US$40 billion. It has over 60 million monthly active users, and 85 percent of Fortune 500 companies use its services, including Salesforce (NYSE:CRM) and PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL). In May 2019, it acquired both Pexels and Pixabay, broadening its stock photo subscription model service. After securing US$200 million in funding in September 2021, the company has plans to double its workforce.

Australia tech outlook: Top tech trends

As mentioned, Australia’s current tech ecosystem is largely underpinned by the country’s advancements in three core sectors: fintech, cleantech and gaming.

According to Deloitte, the fintech sector in Australia is both maturing and scaling at a steady clip, making it ripe for investment. In its Technology Fast 50 2020 report, the firm highlights Half Dome, My Plan Manager and Autoguru as the top technology companies in Australia. For its part, EY reports that 58 percent of Australians used fintech applications in 2019, with the adoption rate rising 27 percent since 2017.

When it comes to cryptocurrencies, another part of the fintech landscape, Australian exchanges CoinJar and Coinspot allow users to buy and sell digital assets. In August 2019, the Gemini exchange also launched its services in Australia, offering users the ability to exchange bitcoin, bitcoin cash, zcash, litecoin and ether. A December 2021 EY report states that the country is on track to see its crypto market swell to up to 30 times its current size by 2030.

Emerging as a leader in the cleantech sector, Australia is making strides in renewable energy technology, such as wind and solar power, as well as energy storage. In early 2019, Melbourne began using wind to power 100 percent of its municipal infrastructure, such as universities, town halls and street lights.

In Queensland, Genex Power began construction of its 250 megawatt Kidston pumped hydro project in 2021. The company secured a government loan of up to AU$610 million to move the project forward. Meanwhile, as part of a 10 year deal, members of the Melbourne Renewable Energy Project will purchase 88 gigawatt hours of wind power annually from Pacific Hydro; the deal has resulted in the creation of nearly 150 new jobs. Fast Company notes that this new business model has spurred renewable energy contracts from several large corporations in Australia.

As Australia makes formative moves in renewable energy, it is also showing explosive growth in the gaming and esports sectors. PwC expects revenue for Australia’s games and esports market hit AU$3.41 billion in 2020.

Australia is home to a number of ASX-listed esports companies, including: Esports Mogul (ASX:ESH), Emerge Gaming (ASX:EM1), iCandy Interactive (ASX:ICI), Kneomedia (ASX:KNM,OTCQB:KNEOF) and SportsHero (ASX:SHO,OTC Pink:NIROF). Further expanding the esports investment opportunities in Australia, the ASX now has an esports-focused exchange-traded fund, the VanEck Vectors Video Gaming and Esports ETF (ASX:ESPO).

As the esports sector continues to expand, it has attracted international partnerships. In 2018, Riot Games, publisher of League of Legends and Valorant, partnered with the Australian Football League and brought an esports event to the Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne, a stadium that seats 4,000. In the summer of 2020, Ubisoft Australia extended its partnership with XP Esports Australia for seasons two and three of the XP Women’s League, as well as the new High School League Rainbow Six competition.

In 2022, Australian esports fans can look forward to the country's first DreamHack festival, an international immersive gaming lifestyle experience first launched in 1994. The three day event will take place in Melbourne, and will feature professional tournaments, as well as “the biggest range of e-sports and gaming content ever seen at an Australian festival," reported Esports Grizzly.

Australia tech outlook: What’s ahead

Looking ahead, PwC expects the Australian gaming and esports market to reach AU$4.9 billion by 2025. The forecasted growth is attributed to app-based games and in-app purchases in a market saturated with smartphone ownership and improved monetisation strategies for increased revenue from mobile games.

Deloitte has made several predictions for the future of tech in Australia. The major sectors the firm sees leading the way forward include on-demand video streaming services, gaming consoles, semiconductor chips, fixed wireless access, private 5G and wearable medical devices.

For its part, the Tech Council of Australia states that the number of workers in the country’s technology field will increase by 286,000 between 2021 and 2025 to reach over 1 million employed in the industry.

It's clear that the capital markets recognised this growing demand early on. In mid-2019, ABC News reported that the ASX was aiming to become an epicentre for tech listings, and over the past few years it has focused on recruiting more late-stage tech companies to access greater pools of capital.

Underscoring this growth are key economic factors. Australia’s economy is recovering from COVID-19 lockdowns. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), “as the recovery continues, labour market conditions will improve and spare capacity will be absorbed.” The OECD is calling for real gross domestic product to grow by 3.8 percent in 2021, 4.1 percent in 2022 and 3 percent in 2023.

What’s more, the wave of initial public offerings (IPOs) that swept Australia’s tech industry in late 2020 continued throughout 2021, with newly listed companies such as Airtasker (ASX:ART) and PEXA (ASX:PXA) amassing initial valuations of AU$255 million and AU$3 billion, respectively. Tech listings are expected to underpin IPOs on the ASX in 2022, and are anticipated to include buy now, pay later business Beforepay, marketplace technology firm Marketplacer and healthcare technology business Careteq.

This is an updated version of an article first published by the Investing News Network in 2019.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time news updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.