Australia’s Key EV Potential Beyond Elon Musk and Tesla

After Tesla’s Battery Day, the Investing News Network explores the role Australia and ASX-listed companies could play in the EV revolution.

Battery metals investors around the world continue to talk about the news, plans and ideas discussed at Tesla’s (NASDAQ:TSLA) Battery Day in September.

The California-based automaker led by Elon Musk unveiled plans to reduce battery cell and pack costs with one main goal in mind: building a US$25,000 electric vehicle (EV).

Musk announced on stage that Tesla will be building a cathode facility in Texas, and will be sourcing its raw materials from North America. He also said the company has rights to lithium-rich clay operations in Nevada, which it could potentially use to secure supply of that raw material.

Putting Tesla’s North American plans into perspective, Paola Rojas, managing director of Synergy Resource Capital, told the Investing News Network (INN) that geopolitical tensions between the US and China have been increasing in recent times, and COVID-19 has exacerbated this.

“Elon Musk has shown a commitment to bringing production capacity and leading tech back to the US — from Tesla to SpaceX and Boring — and these realities have only, in our view, deepened this stance, so it was long time coming,” she commented.

China dominates the lithium-ion battery supply chain, from mid-chemical refining at about an 80 percent share, along with 66 percent of cathode and anode production and 73 percent of battery cell output, as per Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. However, the Asian country only has control over 23 percent of lithium mining as many other countries, including Australia and Chile, are top lithium producers.

“So strategically, in a ‘lithium chess game,’ if you will, it makes perfect sense to target that weaker bucket, to then tackle their entrenched strengths,” Rojas said.

“To achieve this lofty goal, even if all the announcements and plans pan out, in the beginning they will need to rely on companies such as Piedmont Lithium (ASX:PLL), already in place to ease their journey. This aligns seamlessly in Tesla’s quest to create truly American-made batteries.”

Despite announcing to the world that it is going to find a way to extract lithium from clay, shortly after Battery Day, Tesla signed a binding agreement with ASX-listed Piedmont Lithium, which will supply spodumene from its operations in North Carolina.

Commenting on the deal, Reg Spencer of Canaccord Genuity said that the key takeaway is the importance of supply chain localisation and integration in an effort to reduce battery costs and render EVs more affordable compared to conventional autos.

“While we didn’t explicitly expect Tesla to enter into such an arrangement with Piedmont, we had our doubts around the ability of clay-hosted resources to supply the volumes required,” he said.

Overall, Canaccord believes Tesla’s ambitious targets for battery production capacity (set at 3TWh) and EV production (set at 20 million units annually) are a major positive for long-term demand expectations.

“On that basis, (we) did see a need for Tesla to adopt alternative approaches to lithium chemical supply,” Spencer explained to INN.

Rojas thinks it is likely that other ASX-listed companies could benefit from Tesla’s plans — and not only those with operations in the US. “I believe Australian and South American producers can be a significant part of their strategy, at least in the beginning until they ramp up locally, say five to 10 years,” she added.

For Spencer, broadly speaking, the sheer scale of lithium required for Tesla to achieve its goals, notwithstanding demand from other OEMs and battery makers, means that most other lithium producers are likely to benefit from significantly higher demand.

“Looking more locally, Tesla’s comments around supply chain localisation and the role this plays in helping to reduce overall battery costs will likely benefit those companies with projects/operations in proximity to Tesla operations,” Spencer said. “In the US, this could see Ioneer’s (ASX:INR) Rhyolite Ridge as a possible beneficiary.”

Australia’s role in the EV story

Australia is well known for its hard rock, pegmatite-hosted lithium resources, which are mainly shipped to China for processing. Last year, the country retained its spot as the number one lithium producer in the world, with output reaching 42,000 tonnes.

Canaccord expects Australia to play a major role in the supply of raw materials needed for long-term EV production goals, which in addition to lithium will include nickel and rare earths.

“Australia is well endowed with large, high-quality resources, has significant infrastructure and a highly skilled workforce, and is considered among the top mining jurisdictions globally,” he said.

Speaking about Tesla’s plans and Australia’s resources, Rojas agreed with many other analysts who believe Tesla will likely rely on spodumene from the country for at least the next five to 10 years, eventually moving to US-based producers.

“Many reasons support this thesis, geopolitics included. The friendly relationship between the US and Australia surely protects this opportunity,” she said. “I think Australia has a very prominent role in this market already, and this will not disappear any time soon. Our miners are diligent and supported by both institutional and plenty of retail investors.”

Looking at the challenges the country could face ahead, Spencer said Australia has historically struggled in efforts to capture value through downstream processing.

“At present, most raw materials produced here are exported for further processing elsewhere,” he said. “The development of downstream processing will require capital and skill sets that may need to be further developed.”

Choosing juniors and companies to watch

For investors interested in projects in Australia, the considerations when evaluating an asset are no different than in any other place.

“Resource quality (size, grade), proximity to infrastructure, economics (capital and operating costs),” Spencer explained. “Taking this a step further for EV raw materials, product quality (impurity content, grade) are also of significant importance.”

Synergy Resource Capital’s Rojas suggested holding a variety of sources — spodumene and brine, for lithium, or types of deposits in a more general picture. She also recommended diversification in extraction processes — traditional versus direct extraction, and others that may come up in the future; she believes investors should keep an eye on technology and metallurgy when appropriate. Finally jurisdiction is important in terms of diversifying geopolitical risk and supply chain restrictions.

“Additionally, include a mix of producers, developers and explorers to equalise the need for dividends and potential upside,” Rojas said.

Commenting on junior miners operating in Australia in particular, the biggest challenge remains access to capital, Spencer said.

“In the case of lithium and rare earths, high capital intensities for new projects and relatively low commodity pricing sees adequate access to low-cost capital as a major challenge, in our view,” he said.

Weakened pricing has kept miners at stressed levels for a while, with some mine closures, Rojas said.

“It is not the first time a bubble has burst … but we remain bullish since it looks like lithium ion will remain the core platform tech for the foreseeable future,” she said. “We’re contrarian investors by conviction, so these are the times to find hidden gems and get positions.”

Furthermore, with Tesla planning to produce 3 TWh of battery capacity by 2030, the sector will need to rebalance significantly.

“If miners are not incentivised — when prices for raw materials are too low — that reduces not only production but also additional exploration, to expand resources,” she said. “So there’s a few challenges — miners need to keep costs down, optimise and improve productivity while embracing technology.”

Rojas would also like to see more EVs sold locally. “I believe this would facilitate Australia having a more significant role in terms of batteries as well, and in line more EVs and battery tech plays.”

When asked about lithium projects to keep an eye on that are in Australia or listed on the ASX, Canaccord’s Spencer pointed to lithium producers, such as Orocobre (ASX:ORE), Galaxy Resources (ASX:GXY), Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS) and Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN), and advanced developers such as Piedmont Lithium, Ioneer and Lithium Power International (ASX:LPI).

For Rojas, there are a few locally listed worth highlighting, including Pilbara Minerals, Lake Resources (ASX:LKE), Sayona Mining (ASX:SYA), Galaxy Resources, Lithium Power International, Infinity Lithium (ASX:INF) and Jadar Resources (ASX:JDR).

“I recently came across American Pacific Borates (ASX:ABR) … (which is) aiming to service the specialty fertiliser market, but more importantly for this conversation, new high-end technologies like EVs and space shuttles. Worth to look at,” she said. “Secondly, Lithium Australia (ASX:LIT) is working on a couple of alternative extraction methods plus cathode tech. Could also be a contender in some way.”

For other raw materials such as nickel sulphide, Spencer mentioned that producers like IGO (ASX:IGO), Western Areas (ASX:WSA), Panoramic Resources (ASX:PAN) and Mincor Resources (ASX:MCR), are worth watching, while in rare earths, Lynas (ASX:LYC), Hastings Technology Metals (ASX:HAS), Arafura Resources (ASX:ARU) and RareX (ASX:REE) are on his list of companies to watch.

“Nickel and cobalt have felt the downward pressure in pricing, and the latter huge reputational issues,” Rojas said. “But the reality is, no viable technology that can be mainstream in the short term is able to create these batteries without cobalt.”

Rojas added that providing alternate, ethical sources for cobalt aside from the Democratic Republic of Congo, which produces roughly 67 percent of global production, is important.

“Cobalt Blue (ASX:COB) and Alpha HPA (ASX:A4N) are some of the local players we’ve been watching in cobalt and Mincor in nickel,” she added.

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

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

Editorial Disclosure: Piedmont Lithium and Lake Resources are clients of the Investing News Network. This article is not paid-for content.

The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.

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Although the lithium market can be tricky to understand, the payoff can be substantial, said John Kaiser of Kaiser Research.

John Kaiser: No Upside in Tesla, Lithium Juniors are the Future of the EV Story youtu.be

Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) may be at the center of the electric vehicle (EV) revolution, but the Elon Musk-led company has no upside left. That means investors need to look elsewhere for opportunity.

That's according to John Kaiser of Kaiser Research. Speaking at the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention, he said that lithium juniors have become the place to be.

Referencing a report from Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO,LSE:RIO,NYSE:RIO), Kaiser said that by 2035, roughy 1 million tonnes of lithium metal equivalent will be needed to support EV demand.

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lithium brine

Housing the world's largest deposits of lithium, Chile's unique geological landscape and climate make it ideal for lithium brine extraction

As the world continues on the path towards a future dominated by clean energy, lithium's importance only continues to grow. Demand for the battery metal has already reached an all-time high, increasing by 400 percent in 2021. What's more, there is every indication that this growth will continue in 2022, with prices increasing by 126 percent in just the first quarter.

Currently, Australia and Chile are the two leading producers of lithium, respectively accounting for 46.3 percent and 23.9 percent of worldwide production. Both countries are jurisdictionally inclined to support the mining sector. However, Chile's potential could one day see it outstrip even Australia where investment is concerned.

Housing the world's largest deposits of lithium, Chile's unique geological landscape and climate makes it ideal for lithium brine extraction. The country thus has a pivotal role to play in meeting demand and establishing a stable global supply chain.



A critical component of sustainability

Climate change is an undeniable problem, one which requires a collaborative effort to address. It is for this reason that governments around the world have all agreed to pursue full climate neutrality by 2050. Because combustion engines represent an inordinate percentage of greenhouse gas emissions, replacing them with electric vehicles (EV) is essential if any nation is to achieve their sustainability goals.

Lithium is used extensively in both consumer and professional electronics. It is also a staple metal in multiple other sectors, including mining, manufacturing and energy storage.

Given its cross-sector industrial importance, the battery metal was already in high demand.

The large-scale manufacturing of electric vehicles has caused this demand to increase exponentially. As multiple automotive manufacturers construct gigafactories to ramp up EV distribution, the need for lithium is growing well beyond our current production capacity.

Investors and mining companies can benefit by turning to jurisdictions like Chile to ramp up supply. The world's migration towards a sustainable future simply cannot occur without lithium.

Lithium: Australia versus Chile

Although Australia houses impressive lithium reserves, the majority of the country's stores occur in hard rock deposits. Mining these deposits is relatively inexpensive, but hard rock lithium operations also tend to have narrow margins compared to other methods. In particular, lithium brine extraction offers higher yields, greater efficiency and a lower overall environmental impact.

Currently, the largest lithium producer in Australia is Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS,OTC Pink:PILBF). Its flagship project, the Pilgangoora operation, is situated atop one of the world's largest hard rock lithium deposits. It also jointly owns a pegmatite lithium project with Atlas Iron (ASX:AGO), the Mt Francisco project.

Geography represents Chile's first major advantage over other jurisdictions. Alongside Bolivia and Argentina, Chile lays claim to a geographic region known as the Lithium Triangle. Located in the Andes in South America, it contains an estimated 68 percent of the world's identified lithium resources.

The Lithium Triangle is home to a series of vast salt flats, beneath which sit incredibly lithium-rich brine pools. More promising still is the climate of the region, which is known for being incredibly hot and dry. This represents a considerable boon for extraction operations, which typically rely on evaporative processes.

A powerful investment opportunity

Chile's mining sector has leveraged its arid geography to great effect. The country's Salar de Atacama salt flat is the largest-producing brine deposit in the world. It is also home to several major lithium brine operations.

One of these is owned and operated by Albemarle (NYSE:ALB). Currently the largest business provider of lithium for electric vehicle batteries, Albemarle also operates a lithium carbonate plant at La Negra. According to an Albemarle spokesperson, the company has a long history in Chile backed by a unique contract.

SQM (NYSE:SQM) operates another major lithium brine operation in the salt flat. As the world's largest lithium producer overall, the company recently announced plans to reduce brine extraction in the region by 50 percent by 2030. This announcement came in tandem with a commitment to reduce water usage across all its operations by 40 percent.

Finally, just south of Salar de Atacama is situated the highest-quality lithium pre-production project in Chile. Maricunga is jointly owned by Lithium Power International (ASX:LPI), Minera Salar Blanco and Li3 Energy. Situated just 250 kilometers from Chile's coast, and 170 kilometers from the mining town of Copiapo, it's said to possess characteristics directly comparable to Atacama. Maricunga is also adjacent to Highway 31, which connects Northern Chile to Argentina.

The most significant challenge to Chile's growth, from an investment perspective, is sociopolitical. Although the country has a history of being relatively friendly towards the mining sector, its current government is exploring new legislation that could nationalize both copper and lithium. A new mining royalty bill is also in the works, which could increase tax rates by up to 80 percent.

It's worth noting that not every investor considers the current political climate to be a risk. South32 (ASX:S32), a spinoff of BHP (ASX:BHP), recently invested US$1.55 billion to purchase a 45 percent stake in the Sierra Gorda copper mine, and a lithium auction held by Chile earlier this year saw Chinese manufacturing company BYD acquire extraction rights for 80,000 metric tons of lithium.

Takeaway

Chile is home to the largest, richest and most valuable lithium deposits in the world. For many investors, the high margins and low cost of lithium extraction in Chile more than make up for the potential of a few political speed bumps.

This INNSpired article is sponsored by Lithium Power International (ASX:LPI). This INNSpired article provides information that was sourced by the Investing News Network (INN) and approved by Lithium Power International in order to help investors learn more about the company. Lithium Power International is a client of INN. The company’s campaign fees pay for INN to create and update this INNSpired article.

This INNSpired article was written according to INN editorial standards to educate investors.

INN does not provide investment advice and the information on this profile should not be considered a recommendation to buy or sell any security. INN does not endorse or recommend the business, products, services or securities of any company profiled.

The information contained here is for information purposes only and is not to be construed as an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of securities. Readers should conduct their own research for all information publicly available concerning the company. Prior to making any investment decision, it is recommended that readers consult directly with Lithium Power International and seek advice from a qualified investment advisor.

LPI:AU
sign post with arrows pointing to "right," "wrong" and "it depends"

Experts in the field weigh in on Goldman Sachs' lithium oversupply call and whether they think it accurately depicts what's happening in the market.

Last week, the lithium market was shaken by a report from investment bank Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) saying that the bull market for battery metals was over for now.

Prices for lithium, which increased more than 400 percent in the past year, are expected to drop in the next two years, with a “sharp correction” happening by 2023, according to Goldman Sachs analysts.

They project that lithium prices will fall from current levels to an average of just under U$54,000 this year, from an average of above U$60,000. By 2023, the bank forecast is for an average price of just over US$16,000.

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General Manager Matt Herbert described Ontario as an “undiscovered gem,” and spoke about the company’s work on its lithium projects in the province.


After making its ASX debut this past November, Green Technology Metals (ASX:GT1) has been hard at work in Ontario, Canada, where it holds three projects covering 35,000 hectares.

Speaking to the Investing News Network at the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention, General Manager Matt Herbert described the province as an “undiscovered gem” with the potential to contribute to the lithium supply chain in an environmentally conscious manner.

“I think the opportunity there is to create some very, very green lithium,” he said.


“At the moment, a lot of lithium is mined in Western Australia, (then) shipped to China for processing; from China it goes to European battery markets. I think by the time that lithium arrives where it’s supposed to arrive it’s left itself a bit of a carbon footprint,” Herbert explained during the conversation. “We have a real opportunity here to leverage low-carbon lithium in a place that is really screaming for security.”

Green Technology Metals has already seen support from members of the Ontario government, including recently re-elected Premier Doug Ford, and Greg Rickford, who is the province’s minister of northern development, mines, natural resources and forestry, as well as its minister of indigenous affairs.

“Both are massive supporters of critical minerals,” said Herbert. “Those things are important when you’re at the permitting and approval stage, and that’s exactly where we’re at. We’re able to leverage those relationships really well, and there’s just no better place to be at the moment.”

Watch the interview above for more from Herbert on Green Technology Metals and its plans for the next six months. You can also click here for our recap of PDAC, and here for our full PDAC playlist on YouTube.

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

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

Editorial Disclosure: Green Technology Metals is a client of the Investing News Network. This article is not paid-for content.

The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.

stones balancing with three smaller ones on one side and one larger one on the other

Experts believe the positive long-term outlook for electric vehicles means lithium demand’s breather could just be temporary.

Lithium prices climbed over 400 percent last year, with other key battery raw materials such as cobalt and nickel also seeing prices rally as demand from the electric vehicle (EV) industry picked up pace.

But by the end of the first quarter, prices started to stabilize as demand took a breather, particularly in China, where the government has imposed lockdown measures to contain a new wave of COVID-19.

“We expect lithium and cobalt prices to peak this year, from dented but still strong demand and supply chain challenges,” Alice Yu of S&P Global Market Intelligence said at a recent webinar.

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Balkan Mining and Minerals

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This article includes content from Balkan Mining (ASX:BMM), licensed for the purpose of publishing on Investing News Australia. This article does not constitute financial product advice. It is your responsibility to perform proper due diligence before acting upon any information provided here. Please refer to our full disclaimer here.

BMM:AU

Housing the world’s largest deposits of lithium, Chile’s unique geological landscape and climate make it ideal for lithium brine extraction

As the world continues on the path towards a future dominated by clean energy, lithium’s importance only continues to grow. Demand for the battery metal has already reached an all-time high, increasing by 400 percent in 2021. What’s more, there is every indication that this growth will continue in 2022, with prices increasing by 126 percent in just the first quarter.

Currently, Australia and Chile are the two leading producers of lithium, respectively accounting for 46.3 percent and 23.9 percent of worldwide production. Both countries are jurisdictionally inclined to support the mining sector. However, Chile’s potential could one day see it outstrip even Australia where investment is concerned.

Housing the world’s largest deposits of lithium, Chile’s unique geological landscape and climate makes it ideal for lithium brine extraction. The country thus has a pivotal role to play in meeting demand and establishing a stable global supply chain.


A critical component of sustainability

Climate change is an undeniable problem, one which requires a collaborative effort to address. It is for this reason that governments around the world have all agreed to pursue full climate neutrality by 2050. Because combustion engines represent an inordinate percentage of greenhouse gas emissions, replacing them with electric vehicles (EV) is essential if any nation is to achieve their sustainability goals.

Lithium is used extensively in both consumer and professional electronics. It is also a staple metal in multiple other sectors, including mining, manufacturing and energy storage.

Given its cross-sector industrial importance, the battery metal was already in high demand.

The large-scale manufacturing of electric vehicles has caused this demand to increase exponentially. As multiple automotive manufacturers construct gigafactories to ramp up EV distribution, the need for lithium is growing well beyond our current production capacity.

Investors and mining companies can benefit by turning to jurisdictions like Chile to ramp up supply. The world’s migration towards a sustainable future simply cannot occur without lithium.

Lithium: Australia versus Chile

Although Australia houses impressive lithium reserves, the majority of the country’s stores occur in hard rock deposits. Mining these deposits is relatively inexpensive, but hard rock lithium operations also tend to have narrow margins compared to other methods. In particular, lithium brine extraction offers higher yields, greater efficiency and a lower overall environmental impact.

Currently, the largest lithium producer in Australia is Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS,OTC Pink:PILBF). Its flagship project, the Pilgangoora operation, is situated atop one of the world’s largest hard rock lithium deposits. It also jointly owns a pegmatite lithium project with Atlas Iron (ASX:AGO), the Mt Francisco project.

Geography represents Chile’s first major advantage over other jurisdictions. Alongside Bolivia and Argentina, Chile lays claim to a geographic region known as the Lithium Triangle. Located in the Andes in South America, it contains an estimated 68 percent of the world’s identified lithium resources.

The Lithium Triangle is home to a series of vast salt flats, beneath which sit incredibly lithium-rich brine pools. More promising still is the climate of the region, which is known for being incredibly hot and dry. This represents a considerable boon for extraction operations, which typically rely on evaporative processes.

A powerful investment opportunity

Chile’s mining sector has leveraged its arid geography to great effect. The country’s Salar de Atacama salt flat is the largest-producing brine deposit in the world. It is also home to several major lithium brine operations.

One of these is owned and operated by Albemarle (NYSE:ALB). Currently the largest business provider of lithium for electric vehicle batteries, Albemarle also operates a lithium carbonate plant at La Negra. According to an Albemarle spokesperson, the company has a long history in Chile backed by a unique contract.

SQM (NYSE:SQM) operates another major lithium brine operation in the salt flat. As the world’s largest lithium producer overall, the company recently announced plans to reduce brine extraction in the region by 50 percent by 2030. This announcement came in tandem with a commitment to reduce water usage across all its operations by 40 percent.

Finally, just south of Salar de Atacama is situated the highest-quality lithium pre-production project in Chile. Maricunga is jointly owned by Lithium Power International (ASX:LPI), Minera Salar Blanco and Li3 Energy. Situated just 250 kilometers from Chile’s coast, and 170 kilometers from the mining town of Copiapo, it’s said to possess characteristics directly comparable to Atacama. Maricunga is also adjacent to Highway 31, which connects Northern Chile to Argentina.

The most significant challenge to Chile’s growth, from an investment perspective, is sociopolitical. Although the country has a history of being relatively friendly towards the mining sector, its current government is exploring new legislation that could nationalize both copper and lithium. A new mining royalty bill is also in the works, which could increase tax rates by up to 80 percent.

It’s worth noting that not every investor considers the current political climate to be a risk. South32 (ASX:S32), a spinoff of BHP (ASX:BHP), recently invested US$1.55 billion to purchase a 45 percent stake in the Sierra Gorda copper mine, and a lithium auction held by Chile earlier this year saw Chinese manufacturing company BYD acquire extraction rights for 80,000 metric tons of lithium.

Takeaway

Chile is home to the largest, richest and most valuable lithium deposits in the world. For many investors, the high margins and low cost of lithium extraction in Chile more than make up for the potential of a few political speed bumps.

This INNSpired article is sponsored by Lithium Power International (ASX:LPI). This INNSpired article provides information that was sourced by the Investing News Network (INN) and approved by Lithium Power International in order to help investors learn more about the company. Lithium Power International is a client of INN. The company’s campaign fees pay for INN to create and update this INNSpired article.

This INNSpired article was written according to INN editorial standards to educate investors.

INN does not provide investment advice and the information on this profile should not be considered a recommendation to buy or sell any security. INN does not endorse or recommend the business, products, services or securities of any company profiled.

The information contained here is for information purposes only and is not to be construed as an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of securities. Readers should conduct their own research for all information publicly available concerning the company. Prior to making any investment decision, it is recommended that readers consult directly with Lithium Power International and seek advice from a qualified investment advisor.

LPI:AU

Australia is rich in gold, and is home to many major mines. Here's a look at the top Australian gold mines flush with the yellow metal.

With Australia earning more accolades within the gold space and the price of gold hitting record highs in the last two years, investors may want to find out more about gold mines in the country.

Currently the second-largest gold-producing country in the world, Australia is home to top producers and gold mines.

Read on for a breakdown of the Australian gold market, as well as the largest gold mines that can be found throughout the area.


The region of Australia

As previously mentioned, Australia is currently the second-largest gold-producing country across the globe.

Global gold consumption is expected to rise annually at a rate of 5.7 percent until 2023, when it’s expected to reach 4,535 tonnes. Australia’s continued expansion projects and new developments in the gold sector will improve output and help the country maintain its position as a key player in the gold production market.

One of the more prolific gold mining areas in Australia is Western Australia.

Recent exploration activity in the Pilbara region of Western Australia has renewed interest and helped increase the country’s consistent gold output. While the Pilbara region is typically known as one of the world’s largest producers of iron ore, the region is currently in the midst of a small gold rush thanks to a major discovery in 2017 by Novo Resources (TSXV:NVO,OTCQX:NSRPF) and Artemis Resources (ASX:ARV,OTCQB:ARTTF).

In fact, gold was the second largest commodity in Western Australia by value in 2020 to 2021, behind iron ore, at a record of AU$17.3 billion in sales in 2020. In 2021, the metal saw sales of AU$16 million in the state.

The Fraser Institute also named Western Australia one of the best mining jurisdictions in the world, coming in first in 2021. The area has attracted major miners like Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO,LSE:RIO,NYSE:RIO) and BHP (ASX:BHP,NYSE:BHP,LSE:BLT) to the region. Covering more than half a million square kilometres (km), Western Australia’s Pilbara is one of the most resource-rich regions in the state.

Western Australia itself represents close to 60 percent of the country’s total gold output and some geologists have compared the geology of the Pilbara Craton with South Africa’s Kaapvaal Craton and Witwatersrand Basin. Witwatersrand is home to the Earth’s largest known gold reserves and is responsible for over 40 percent of worldwide gold production. Both the Pilbara and Witwatersrand are similar in age and composition, sitting on top of the Archean granite-greenstone basement. The Pilbara area hosts numerous small mesothermal gold deposits containing conglomerate gold — mineralization known to hold large, high-grade gold nuggets.

What are the top Australian gold mines?

Below is a guided tour of the top 10 largest gold mines in Australia in terms of gold output, according to the Aurum Analytics quarterly report on Australian and New Zealand gold operations.

1. Cadia Valley

Owned and operated by Newcrest (ASX:NCM,OTC Pink:NCMGF), Cadia is officially the biggest mine in Australia in terms of production. During the second quarter of 2021, the asset had an output of 194,757 ounces of gold.

The mine is made up of the Cadia East underground panel cave mine and the Ridgeway underground mine (currently in care and maintenance), which produce gold doré bars from a gravity circuit and gold-rich copper concentrates from a flotation circuit.

In October of 2019, the company announced approval of the Cadia expansion project, bringing it to the execution phase. This stage involves beginning development for the next cave (PC2-3). In December 2021, the company received approval to expand production to 35 million tonnes a year.

2. Boddington

Newmont (TSX:NGT,NYSE:NEM) became the sole owner of this open-pit mine in 2009.

The mine is located 16 kilometres from Boddington, Australia, and has an annual gold production of 709,000 attributable ounces. The mine is Western Australia’s biggest gold producer. In 2020, the asset produced 670,000 ounces of the yellow metal.

In addition to gold, the mine also produces copper, and at the end of 2020, it provided an output of 56 million attributable pounds of the base metal.

In 2021, the company announced that Boddington would have the industry’s first autonomous haulage fleet.

3. Fosterville

Fosterville is a high-grade, low-cost underground gold mine located in the state of Victoria, Australia. The Fosterville mine features growing gold production at increasingly high grades, as well as extensive in-mine and district scale exploration potential.

The mine has been operational since 1989, with a lifetime production of over 16 million ounces of gold. Additionally, in terms of scale, it is Australia’s largest mine and its pits encompass more than 5 square kilometres. It’s also one of the lowest cost gold mines in the world.

The asset, which is owned by Agnico Eagle Mines (TSX:AEM,NYSE:AEM), is the third-largest gold-producing mine in Australia, producing an impressive 157,993 ounces in Q2 2021.

4. KCGM

Northern Star (ASX:NST,OTC Pink:NESRF) owns Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines (KCGM), which includes the Fimiston open pit, Mt Charlotte underground mine and Fimiston and Gidji processing plants.

Northern Star refers to the Fimiston open pit as a super pit because it has produced more than 50 million ounces of gold in the last 30 years.

The asset is located in the legendary Golden Mile, which was once reputed to be the richest square mile on earth. When fully developed, Kalgoorlie will be 3.6 kilometres long, 1.6 kilometres wide and up to 650 metres deep.

KCGM Operations had previously been joint-owned by Barrick Gold (TSX:ABX) and Newmont until both companies sold their interests, and the operations were handed entirely to Northern Star in June 2021.

5. Telfer

Another mine owned by Newcrest, Telfer is located in the eastern Pilbara and is one of the oldest in Australia. Between the years 1975 and 2000, the asset produced approximately 6 million ounces of gold until operations were suspended due to high operating costs.

Fortunately, production was able to restart in 2004, and the mine has since produced over 5 million ounces, with 416,000 ounces of gold in the 2021 financial year alone. The mine also produces copper, with an output of 16 tonnes in 2019.

In 2015, the company signed a land use agreement with the Martu people, which enabled work at the mine to continue in exchange for the Martu receiving AU$18 million over the course of five years with the addition of a further revenue-sharing agreement.

6. Tanami

Tanami has been fully owned and operated by Newmont since 2002, and it is located in the remote Tanami Desert of Australia. Additionally, both the mine and the plant are located on Aboriginal freehold land that is owned by the Warlpiri people and managed on their behalf by the Central Desert Aboriginal Lands Trust.

Tanami is a fly-in, fly-out operation in one of Australia’s most remote locations. The asset is 270 kilometres away from its closest neighbours, the remote Aboriginal community of Yuendumu. In 2020, Tanami produced 495,000 ounces of gold and reported 5.9 million ounces of gold reserves.

The Tanami Expansion 2 is currently underway to secure its future, potentially extending the mine life to 2040 and increasing annual gold production by an approximate 150 to 200 thousand ounces.

7. St. Ives

Owned and operated by Gold Fields (NYSE:GFI,JSE:GFI), St. Ives is both an open pit and underground mine, with two main open pits, and three underground mines.

In one of Gold Fields’ latest quarterly reports, it was revealed that St. Ives produced 393 tonnes of the yellow metal in 2021, up 2 percent from 385 tonnes in 2020.

8. Tropicana

Tropicana is co-owned by AngloGold Ashanti (ASX:AGG,NYSE:AU,OTC Pink:AULGF), which owns 70 percent, and Regis Resources (ASX:RRL), which owns the remaining 30 percent.

The mine spans 3,600 square kilometres, stretching over close to 160 kilometres in strike length along the Yilgarn Craton and Fraser Range mobile belt collision zone. The regional geology is dominated by granitoid rocks; it is a rare example of a large gold deposit within high grade metamorphic rocks that have undergone widespread recrystallisation and melting.

In 2021, Tropicana produced 265,000 ounces of gold with an all-in sustaining cost of AU$1,326 per ounce.

9. Jundee

Jundee is located in the increasingly sought-after Western Australia region and is owned by Northern Star after the miner purchased it from Newmont in 2014 for AU$82.5 million.

The project is well-known due to the fact that it solely uses underground mining and not the often utilized open pit mining. Jundee produces around 1.8 million tonnes of ore per year.

Most recently, the asset produced 83,562 ounces of gold in Q2 2021.

10. South Kalgoorlie Operations

The South Kalgoorlie Operations were acquired by Northern Star (ASX:NST,OTC Pink:NESRF) in 2018.

In the second quarter of 2021, the South Kalgoorlie Oerations produced 76,175 ounces of the precious metal.

How can you invest in Australian gold stocks?

Like all publicly listed stocks, gold companies issue shares that are available for investors to trade. When you purchase shares of a gold stock, you are essentially purchasing a stake in the company, making an investment with financial returns or losses from its profits.

There are two main ways that an investor can invest in gold mining stocks. The first way is when market participants purchase through a major mining company; the other way of trading on the stock market is by investing in a gold mining stock through a junior miner (a small cap stock).

Although no gold stock investing is 100 percent foolproof, backing a successful mining company in the precious metals space can alleviate some of the stress of a down stock market when you keep in mind that if a company’s share price goes down, it becomes more affordable to purchase and investors can more than likely anticipate that it will rise again and turn a profit.

While gold stocks are affected by some of the same factors that shape and shift the price of precious metals, they keep some distance from a direct correlation because it is possible for a gold miner and its stocks to be in a sound financial situation, even in a down market.

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 updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Matthew Flood, currently hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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