Best Lithium Stocks of 2019 on the ASX

The best ASX lithium stocks based on year-to-date gains were able to weather 2019’s harsh conditions for lithium.

Click here to read the latest best ASX lithium stocks article.

2019 was a tough year for lithium producers globally, with prices declining through the year even as interest in the mineral and its applications in the burgeoning battery industry flourished.

The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) had a few battlers, though, with three 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 December 12, 2019, and includes companies that had market caps above AU$10 million at that time.

The three companies are listed on the ASX, but have assets across three continents: Australia, North America and Europe. Read on to find out more about each of them.

Liontown Resources (ASX:LTR)

Year-to-date gain: 217.91 percent; current share price: AU$0.08

Liontown Resources bills itself as a future Australian lithium producer, with two lithium projects in Western Australia, including its flagship Kathleen Valley project.

In 2019, the company made great strides in developing Kathleen Valley, updating the mineral resource estimate for the project from its maiden mineral resource estimate of 21.2 million tonnes grading 1.4 percent lithium oxide to a very respectable 74.9 million tonnes grading 1.3 percent lithium oxide.

Interest in Liontown in 2019 began to increase in the lead up to its updated mineral resource estimate. Shares were priced at around AU$0.02 from the beginning of the year through to May, and then shot up to AU$0.17 by July 22 off the back of drilling updates and the published estimate. Since then, the company has fallen away from those highs, but it's still managed to hold onto significant gains, making Liontown a rarity among global lithium stocks.

Ioneer (ASX:INR)

Year-to-date gain: 11.76 percent; current share price: AU$0.19

Ioneer is listed on the ASX, but its flagship Rhyolite Ridge lithium-boron project is located in Nevada in the US. The company completed a prefeasibility study for Rhyolite Ridge in late 2018, so it has had 2019 to bask in that attention.

Through the year, the project's pilot plant, located in Vancouver, Canada, has been in development, producing its first high-purity boric acid in July.

Meanwhile, the company has been busy upgrading the mineral resource estimate for the project; it is now at 154 million tonnes of ore for 1.3 million tonnes of lithium carbonate.

The company's share price has been up and down, falling as low as AU$0.13, and rising as high as AU$0.26 over the course of the year.

Infinity Lithium (ASX:INF)

Year-to-date gain: 10 percent; current share price: AU$0.07

ASX-listed Infinity Lithium is the 75 percent owner of the San Jose lithium project in Spain, which the company touts as Europe's second largest lithium deposit.

Infinity has built its project's location into its pitch to investors, talking up the importance of the battery-grade lithium market in Europe, as well as government support for alternative energy projects and technology such as electric vehicles and energy storage.

The project, which Infinity shares with Valoriza Mineria (though Infinity has the option to increase its ownership to 100 percent), has indicated reserves of 59 million tonnes, along with inferred resources of 52.2 million tonnes for more than 1.6 million tonnes of lithium carbonate. It would have a life of 19 years if it went into production.

Infinity's share price is up by a modest 10 percent year to date at AU$0.07, though it was as high as AU$0.10 in May.

What do you think were the top lithium stocks of 2019? Let us know in the comments below.

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

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

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On 2 March 2021 the Australian Taxation Office issued Rio Tinto Limited with amended assessments related to the denial of interest deductions on an isolated borrowing used to pay an intragroup dividend in 2015. The borrowing was repaid in 2018. The ATO has today issued further assessments in relation to the same transaction levying penalties of A$352m and reducing the original interest assessment from A$47m to A$27m …

On 2 March 2021 the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) issued Rio Tinto Limited with amended assessments related to the denial of interest deductions on an isolated borrowing used to pay an intragroup dividend in 2015. The borrowing was repaid in 2018.

The ATO has today issued further assessments in relation to the same transaction levying penalties of A$352m (US$257.9m) and reducing the original interest assessment from A$47m to A$27m (US$19.8m).

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Ioneer Ltd is pleased to announce that the Company has reached an agreement to establish a joint venture with Sibanye Stillwater Limited to develop the flagship Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron Project located in Nevada, USA . Under the terms of the agreement, Sibanye-Stillwater will contribute US$490 million for a 50% interest in the Joint Venture, with ioneer to maintain a 50% interest and retain operatorship. ioneer …

Ioneer Ltd (“ioneer" or the “Company") (ASX: INR) is pleased to announce that the Company has reached an agreement to establish a joint venture (the " Joint Venture “) with Sibanye Stillwater Limited ( “Sibanye-Stillwater" ) to develop the flagship Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron Project located in Nevada, USA (the “Project" ). Under the terms of the agreement, Sibanye-Stillwater will contribute US$490 million for a 50% interest in the Joint Venture, with ioneer to maintain a 50% interest and retain operatorship. ioneer has also agreed to provide Sibanye-Stillwater with an option to participate in 50% of the North Basin 1 upon the election of Sibanye-Stillwater to contribute up to an additional US$50 million subject to certain terms and conditions.

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Perth, Australia – Australia’s next rare earths producer Hastings Technology Metals Ltd is pleased to announce that it has received the commendation of Premier Mark McGowan and the Western Australian Government for the Company’s development of the Yangibana Rare Earths Project in the State’s Gascoyne region. Premier McGowan said Hastings’ development of Yangibana was expressly aligned with the State’s Future Battery …

Perth, Australia (ABN Newswire) – Australia’s next rare earths producer Hastings Technology Metals Ltd (ASX:HAS) (FRA:5AM) is pleased to announce that it has received the commendation of Premier Mark McGowan and the Western Australian Government for the Company’s development of the Yangibana Rare Earths Project (Yangibana), in the State’s Gascoyne region.

Premier McGowan said Hastings’ development of Yangibana was expressly aligned with the State’s Future Battery Industry Strategy, which aims to expand the range of future battery minerals that are extracted and processed in Western Australia. Appendix 1 provides a copy of the public commendation that Hastings has received.

The Premier’s commendation follows the West Australian Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation (JTSI) acknowledging that the Yangibana Project represents a strategic opportunity for investment and growth to position the State as a reliable supplier of speciality rare earth minerals.

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Gold isn't all that glitters in the land down under — silver in Australia is a major industry, and the country is home to both large and small players.

When it comes to precious metals, Australia has long punched above its weight — the nation was born riding the wave of a gold rush.

Gold isn't all that glitters through — Australia is also a major global producer of silver. It's among the 10 top producers, and was ranked seventh in 2020, with 1,300 tonnes coming from the many operational mines in the country. By comparison, the world's top producer, Mexico, produced 6,300 tonnes that same year.

Other key players in the silver market are Peru, China and Russia, which produce more silver than Australia, and the US, Argentina and Bolivia, which produce less.


Australia is sitting on quite a lot of the precious metal, with the world's second largest reserves, behind only Peru.

According to Geoscience Australia, one of the country's first mines was a silver-lead mine near Adelaide. Since then, the entire continent has been combed over with a fine-toothed comb, with deposits identified in every state and territory and active mines in every jurisdiction but one (Victoria).

Overall, Australia is well explored when it comes to silver, and since the mid-1800s it's had a constant stream of silver production. Aside from that, the country boasts metals-processing facilities in South Australia that separate the precious metal from its commonly mined counterpart metals, lead and zinc.

Silver companies in Australia

Those looking at the Australian silver market have options. There are plenty of big players with interests in Australian silver, and many smaller players for investors to consider researching too.

Most silver comes from mines dedicated to other metals — Glencore's (LSE:GLEN,OTC Pink:GLCNF) Mount Isa in Queensland produces mainly copper, zinc and lead, but silver is separated by the company's integrated processing streams. Glencore also operates the McArthur mine in the Northern Territory, which is primarily zinc, but between its copper and zinc assets, Glencore produced 7,404,000 ounces of silver in Australia in 2020 — over 200 tonnes.

Elsewhere, BHP (ASX:BHP,NYSE:BHP,LSE:BLT) produces a lot of silver as well at the Olympic Dam operation in South Australia. Perhaps best known for the production of uranium and copper, it also yields significant silver resources to the tune of 984,000 ounces in 2020 (or almost 28 tonnes).

According to Geoscience Australia data from 2016, over 20 mines in Australia produced silver in that year, while there are dozens of other resources identified in each state.

A primary producer of silver is the Cannington mine in Queensland, where South32 (ASX:S32,OTC Pink:SHTLF), a company that was spun off from BHP in 2015, mines silver and lead. Cannington is a big one, producing 11,792,000 ounces in 2020, or 334 tonnes of silver.

Tasmania boasts the Rosebery mine, which has seen 85 years of continuous operations and is currently owned by MMG (ASX:MMG,HKEX:1208). Rosebery, like all the others here, is polymetallic, and besides silver also produces copper, zinc, lead and gold. MMG also has the Dugald River mine in Queensland which also produced silver.

Getting into smaller companies, there are those like New Century Resources (ASX:NCZ) which restarted the Century mine in the Northern Territory for zinc and silver.

The future of silver in Australia

So, you get the picture — there's a lot of silver to be mined in Australia by way of mining everything else.

It's worth noting that because silver operates both as a precious and an industrial metal, and is mined most often alongside base metals, it can be pulled in many directions. However, it traditionally follows (and lags behind) its precious metal sibling, gold, making it a valuable investment commodity to keep an eye on.

Looking forward, the future of the commodity in the land down under — especially given Australia's significant reserves and operator diversity — is as bright as you'd like it, and depends on what investors are most interested in, given the by-product nature of the metal.

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.

Australia took a stand against Facebook and Google earlier this year, and the move could have long-term implications for tech investors.

It was a ban that sent Australians wild and had the whole world watching.

Back in February, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) stopped users in Australia from posting news in a week-long blackout, reacting to proposed legislation that would have forced the social media behemoth to pay publishers for content.

What prompted Facebook to "friend" Australia again, and what are the potential long-term implications of the squabble? Read on to learn what tech-focused investors in Australia should know about the situation.


Australia squares off against Facebook

On February 25 of this year, Australia's federal government passed the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code. It was developed after extensive analysis by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and is aimed at ensuring that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for their content.

It stipulates that digital platforms such as Facebook and Google (both named in the documentation) must pay news outlets whose content they feature — for example, if content is shared on Facebook or shows up in Google search results. The idea is that this will help to sustain journalism in Australia.

Unsurprisingly, Facebook and Google didn't react well to the code, which was first introduced in 2020.

Google didn't make any moves after it passed, but Facebook quickly made it impossible for Australian users to share news content, and pages for both local and international news organisations went blank — a major concern given the COVID-19 and wildfire concerns that were circulating at the time.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was scathing about Facebook's decision — which he ironically shared in a Facebook post — declaring the tech giant's actions "as arrogant as they were disappointing." He added, "These actions will only confirm the concerns that an increasing number of countries are expressing about the behaviour of BigTech companies who think they are bigger than governments and that the rules should not apply to them."

Despite strong feelings from both Australia and Facebook, the dispute was resolved fairly quickly, with the country agreeing to make four amendments to the legislation and Facebook restoring Australian's access to news.

Implications for Big Tech and news organisations

Both Australia and Facebook have claimed victory in the dispute, with a Facebook representative saying the company will be able to decide if news appears on the platform — meaning it won't automatically have to negotiate with any news businesses. Changes were also made to the arbitration process.

Tech experts have pointed out that larger news companies may ultimately benefit from the changes, but smaller ones could be pushed to the side. Major publishers that have struck agreements with tech giants, such as News Corp, Nine Entertainment (ASX:NEC,OTC Pink:NNMTF), Seven West Media (ASX:SWM) and Guardian Australia, may be able to increase their market share while smaller independent players lose out.

A business that is in full support of the laws is Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). During the conflict, President Brad Smith came out loudly in favour of Australia's law, and advised that his company is willing to step up with search engine Bing should Google and/or Facebook pull out of the Australian market.

"In Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pushed forward with legislation two years in the making to redress the competitive imbalance between the tech sector and an independent press. The ideas are straightforward. Dominant tech properties like Facebook and Google will need to invest in transparency, including by explaining how they display news content," he said in a blog post.

"The United States should not object to a creative Australian proposal that strengthens democracy by requiring tech companies to support a free press. It should copy it instead."

Global reach and tech investor impact

Six months down the road from Australia's landmark legislation, it's tough to say what the long-term impact may be.

That said, market watchers do believe the country is part of a new precedent of forcing Big Tech into paying for journalism — something giants Facebook and Google are not used to.

Countries looking to pursue similar legislation include Canada, where Facebook agreed in May to pay 14 publishers to link to their articles on its COVID-19 and climate science pages, as well as other unspecified use cases. Canada is pursuing other avenues too. Meanwhile, in France, Google said it will pay publishers for news content after the country took up new EU copyright laws that make digital platforms liable for infringements.

For investors, the takeaway is perhaps that while companies like Facebook and Google may seem too big too fail, they too can fall subject to new regulations that can change how they do business. As nations around the world look to take back control from these mega companies, it's important to be aware of possible effects on their bottom lines.

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

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

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