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The lithium market experienced another interesting year in 2020, with COVID-19 impacting economies around the world and prices continuing to decline through the year.
The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) had a few battlers though, with five companies not only holding their ground, but experiencing increases in their share prices through the year.
Here, the Investing News Network takes a look at those companies and their year-to-date gains. The list below was generated using TradingView’s stock screener on November 16, 2020, and includes companies that had market caps above AU$50 million at that time.
The five companies are listed on the ASX, but have assets across many continents: Australia, the Americas, Africa and Europe. Read on to find out more about each of them.
1. Vulcan Energy Resources (ASX:VUL)
Year-to-date gain: 1,183.87 percent; current share price: AU$1.99
Vulcan Energy Resources is aiming to become the world’s first zero-carbon lithium producer for electric vehicle batteries. With a focus on Europe, the company aims to produce the world’s first premium, battery-quality, zero-carbon lithium hydroxide by harnessing renewable geothermal energy to drive lithium production without using evaporation, mining or fossil fuels.
Vulcan Energy is developing its deep geothermal and lithium brine resource in the Upper Rhine Valley in Germany. Vulcan will use its unique zero-carbon lithium process to produce both renewable geothermal energy and lithium hydroxide from the same deep brine source.
Vulcan’s total combined Upper Rhine Valley project resource is estimated at 16.19 million tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent at a grade of 181 mg/L lithium in indicated and inferred resources. Ninety percent of that is in the inferred resource category, and the company says is the largest JORC lithium resource in Europe, with further growth potential.
2. Piedmont Lithium (ASX:PLL)
Year-to-date gain: 216.24 percent; current share price: AU$0.37
Piedmont Lithium’s flagship project is located in North Carolina, host to the world-class Carolina Tin-Spodumene Belt. Major lithium-focused mining companies such as Livent (NYSE:LTHM) and Albemarle (NYSE:ALB) have longstanding operations in this region.
The company’s 2019 scoping study for the project includes a mine and concentrator capable of producing 160,000 tonnes per year of spodumene concentrate and a steady state 22,700 tonne per year lithium hydroxide chemical plant.
In 2020, days after its long-awaited Battery Day, US electric vehicle maker Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) signed a binding five year agreement with Piedmont Lithium for the supply of spodumene concentrate from Piedmont’s North Carolina deposit.
3. Liontown Resources (ASX:LTR)
Year-to-date gain: 204.60 percent; current share price: AU$0.26
Liontown Resources bills itself as a future Australian lithium producer, with two lithium projects in Western Australia, including its flagship Kathleen Valley project.
An updated prefeasibility study confirms the technical and financial viability of a standalone 2 million tonne per year mining and processing operation at Kathleen Valley, based on an updated ore reserve of 71 million tonnes at 1.4 percent lithium oxide and 130 parts per million tantalum pentoxide.
The ore reserve also underpins a 40 year mine life with average production of 350,000 tonnes per year at 6 percent lithium oxide spodumene concentrate and 430,000 tonnes per year of 30 percent tantalum pentoxide concentrate. The company is now moving onto a definitive feasibility study (DFS) for the project focused on spodumene concentrate production.
4. European Metals (ASX:EMH)
Year-to-date gain: 131.67 percent; current share price: AU$0.69
Dual-listed European Metals is advancing the Cinovec lithium-tin project in the Czech Republic.
According to the company, Cinovec is the largest hard-rock lithium deposit in Europe, the fourth largest non-brine deposit in the world and a globally significant tin resource.
Cinovec hosts a total indicated mineral resource of 372.4 million tonnes at 0.45 percent lithium oxide and 0.04 percent tin, and an inferred mineral resource of 323.5 million tonnes at 0.39 percent lithium oxide and 0.04 percent tin containing a combined 7.22 million tonnes lithium carbonate equivalent and 263,000 tonnes of tin. The company has recently started a measured resource drilling program.
5. AVZ Minerals (ASX:AVZ)
Year-to-date gain: 90.70 percent; current share price: AU$0.08
AVZ Minerals is focused on developing the Manono project, a lithium-rich pegmatite deposit in the south of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in Central Africa.
A DFS published in 2020 shows a 20 year mine life producing 700,000 tonnes per year of high-grade spodumene concentrate lithium and 45,375 tonnes per annum of primary lithium sulphate. The capital expenditure is estimated at US$545.5 million, which includes a contingency of US$49.59 million.
Aside from its 60 percent interest in the Manono project and a 100 percent interest in the surrounding Manono extension project, the company holds interests in exploration projects prospective for lithium, tin, tantalum and associated minerals in the DRC.
What do you think were the top lithium stocks of 2020? Let us know in the comments below.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Priscila Barrera, currently hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
Editorial Disclosure: Piedmont Lithium is a client of the Investing News Network. This article is not paid-for content.