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Australia Angling to Increase Rare Earths Supply Chain Strength

An Austrade specialist says the Australian government has taken a “keen interest” in the rare earth elements supply chain.

With the US leaning into its trade dispute with China, uncertainty in the rare earths market, coupled with an overreliance on the Asian nation for production, has spurred the Australian government to wedge itself into the sector and make itself valuable to global trading partners.

Speaking at the International Mining and Resources Conference in Melbourne, Australia, in late October, David Grabau, senior investment specialist for resources and energy at Austrade, said that the Australian government has taken a “keen interest” in the rare earth elements supply chain and is already at an advantage as the country hosts the only producer outside of China globally.

‘There’s a whole lot of scope here, and in terms of Australia’s involvement in this subsector, what we’re focusing on is where we think we have some competitive advantage.”

In his keynote address, titled “Focusing on the Exploration and Supply of Critical Minerals in Australia,” Grabau drilled down on the relationship between Australia and its trading partners and the need for a secure and stable rare earths supply chain, which he described as “choppy.”

He called it that because of the concentration of production in China and concerns about supply risks in the trade war environment, which the world has been in for over a year. Since his address, China has announced an increase in rare earths production to meet demand, potentially further tightening its control over the market.

“What we would like to see is more consistency in the market so that international financiers and equity investors might be able to play a larger role.”

On demand and supply, Grabau said, “(T)here is a high expectation for the development of electric vehicles, particularly in China — but we are seeing some concern creep into the market.

“Importantly for Australia, we have significant potential to play ourselves into the electric vehicle value chain,” he explained. “Beyond Lynas (ASX:LYC,OTC Pink:LYSCF) we have anywhere between four and six potential or near shovel-ready projects covering large parts of the country, spanning from Western Australia across New South Wales.”

Some companies with projects on the boil are Alkane Resources (ASX:ALK,OTCQX:ALKEF) in New South Wales, Arafura Resources (ASX:ARU,OTC Pink:ARAFF) in the Northern Territory and both Northern Minerals (ASX:NTU) and Hastings Technology Metals (ASX:HAS) in Western Australia.

“Australia has a number of projects in the pipeline, and we are confident that if we can start to get these projects producing and developed, that will then spur exploration interest and potential investment in this sector,” he commented.

On the trend of nations identifying certain minerals as “critical” wherein they are seen as vital to development but vulnerable to disruption, Grabau said that Australia is welcoming opportunities to cooperate with all its trading partners on securing the rare earths supply chain.

“Secure and stable supply of rare earths at affordable prices … is becoming of increasing interest to a number of countries across the world,” he said, pointing to the US, the EU, Japan and India as examples.

Austrade and the Australian government have taken a particular interest in the US, though not in response to the trade war. Grabau stressed that the country is being singled out because it has unique investment opportunities.

“With regards to our interest in the US, what we realized was that the American supply chain is not something which America directly controls, and America is looking for potential security of supply both through minerals extraction, but also through the various processing stages, until you get to a finished product,” he explained.

Grabau said that in Austrade’s publication titled “Critical Minerals Supply Chain in the United States” (available in PDF form on Austrade’s website), it has identified 60 end-user companies that it thinks will possibly be markets for critical metals from Australia.

The US has indeed been casting around for more options in the rare earths supply chain: markets jittered earlier this year after Chinese President Xi Jinping visited a major rare earths-dependent factory alongside Vice Premier Liu He, who is China’s lead trade negotiator with the US.

The move was seen as signalling that China was considering throwing rare earths into the trade war. It previously throttled rare earths exports to Japan over a fisheries dispute, so negotiations with the US in the trade war are likely fair game.

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

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

Editorial Disclosure: 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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Australia is home to a thriving tech sector with fresh investment opportunities emerging across a variety of subsectors, such as gaming, fintech, healthcare and cleantech.

The technology sector currently contributes about AU$167 billion to the Australian economy, according to research commissioned by the Technology Council of Australia. This figure has increased by 79 percent from 2016, representing a growth rate that is more than four times that of most industries. In fact, the tech sector is the third largest economic sector in Australia, behind mining and finance/insurance.

Unsurprisingly, many tech stocks on the ASX have performed well in this landscape.


Below the Investing News Network profiles the five best ASX technology stocks in terms of share price performance in 2021. Data for the companies was gathered on December 31, 2021, using TradingView’s stock screener, and all of the best ASX technology stocks listed had market caps above AU$10 million at that time.

1. Novonix

Market cap: AU$4.45 billion; year-to-date gain: 659.5 percent

The first of the best ASX tech stocks on this list is battery technology company Novonix (ASX:NVX), which specializes in developing battery testing equipment for the worldwide lithium-ion battery market. The company was spun out from Dr. Jeff Dahn’s lab at Dalhousie University; Dr. Dahn is one of the pioneers of the lithium-ion battery.

While not yet a revenue generator, the company has benefited from the explosive growth expected out of the fast-moving global electric vehicle (EV) industry.

In December, Novonix announced preliminary results from an environmental impact study; they show the company’s synthetic graphite EV and energy storage system (ESS) battery anode product offers an approximate 60 percent decrease in CO2 emissions, potentially making it “2.5 times better for the environment than Chinese synthetic graphite EV and ESS battery anode material,” as per the Market Herald.

2. Oneview Healthcare

Market cap: AU$114.57 million; year-to-date gain: 488.89 percent

Oneview Healthcare’s (ASX:ONE) interactive software platform offers digital tools to healthcare providers, patients and families to improve point of care outcomes.

This past spring, the global healthcare tech company launched its cloud-based care platform. “Deployed on Microsoft Azure, this platform enables health systems to quickly adopt technology for engaging patients, reducing non-clinical demands on care teams and optimising clinical and operational effectiveness,” notes a press release.

Oneview has signed a number of contracts for the use of this platform, including with Omaha’s Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, Northern Health in Melbourne and Kingman Regional Medical Center in Arizona. In late November, Oneview raised AU$20 million in a private placement with plans to use the funds to further product development, scale its cloud enterprise and strengthen its balance sheet.

3. Emyria

Market cap: AU$105.86 million; year-to-date gain: 318.48 percent

Emyria (ASX:EMD) is a healthcare technology company that specializes in data-backed drug development and operates a network of medical clinics. Using proprietary clinical evidence, the company develops registered treatments for underserved medical needs.

Emyria’s current drug development programs center on cannabidiol (CBD) medicines for mental health, CBD/THC treatments for irritable bowel syndrome and MDMA treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder.

In late November, one of Australia’s largest private investment groups, Tattarang, made a AU$5 million investment in Emyria, which will help the company further advance its drug development work.

4. PlaySide Studios

Market cap: AU$445.38 million; year-to-date gain: 139.13 percent

PlaySide Studios (ASX:PLY) develops mobile games, virtual reality, augmented reality and PC games. The company’s portfolio consists of 52 titles, including original intellectual property games, as well as games developed with the worlds’ largest studios, such as Disney (NYSE:DIS), Warner Bros and Nickelodeon.

PlaySide Studios is Australia’s largest publicly listed gaming technology company, and following its 2020 initial public offering, it generated revenue of AU$10.88 million for the 2021 fiscal year. In November, the company inked a landmark deal with 2K Games, a label of Take-Two Interactive Software (NASDAQ:TTWO).

In the last weeks of 2021, PlaySide signed a number of deals, including a contract with Shiba Inu Games and a partnership with One True King to co-develop a PC-based game, which will also provide access to One True King's 21 million global followers.

5. Universal Biosensors

Market cap: AU$175.98 million; year-to-date gain: 127.59 percent

Last on this list of best ASX tech stocks is medical device technology company Universal Biosensors (ASX:UBI), which develops, manufactures and commercializes diagnostic testing systems for point-of-care providers and at-home use. It has products for blood glucose monitoring, coagulation testing, immunoassays and molecular diagnostics.

“UBI’s biosensor technology platform has been used to deliver more than 10 billion diagnostic tests to patients worldwide generating billions of dollars in sales,” states a company presentation. “We have licensed and partnered new technology and new biosensors with global applications.”

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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.

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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.