5 Top Australian Lithium Stocks

Many market watchers expect lithium demand to surge. With that in mind, it’s worth being aware of the top Australian lithium stocks.

It's an interesting time in the lithium space, with many market watchers expecting demand to surge in the coming years due to the metal's use in lithium-ion batteries.

Despite recent headwinds, most analysts would agree that Australia is well positioned to take advantage of the energy revolution, which includes electric cars. In fact, Australia is the world's top producer, ahead of Chile and China in second and third place, respectively.

With that in mind, it's worth being aware of which Australian lithium stocks are out there and how they are performing. Read on to learn about the five top Australian lithium stocks by market cap. Data for this article was gathered using TradingView's stock screener on November 16, 2020.


1. Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN)

Market cap: AU$5.18 billion; current share price: AU$28.25

Perth-based Mineral Resources is a leading mining services provider, with a particular focus on the iron ore and hard-rock lithium sectors in Western Australia. The top Australian lithium stock's current lithium projects include Mount Marion and Wodgina.

The Mount Marion lithium project, which is located in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, is jointly owned by Mineral Resources and top lithium producer Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium (OTC Pink:GNENF,SZSE:002460). The asset was initially expected to produce 206,000 tonnes of spodumene concentrate per year, but the mining companies are completing an upgrade project to increase production to 450,000 tonnes of all-in 6 percent spodumene concentrate per year.

In December 2018, Mineral Resources entered a joint venture with top producer Albemarle (NYSE:ALB) for its Wodgina hard-rock mining lithium project, which will produce spodumene concentrate and, in the future, lithium hydroxide. The asset was put into care and maintenance in late 2019. Wodgina, considered the world's largest hard-rock lithium deposit, has a JORC mineral resource of 233 million tonnes and an inaugural probable hard-rock reserve in the Cassiterite pit of 142.4 million tonnes.

2. Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS)

Market cap: AU$1.1 billion; current share price: AU$0.51

Pilbara Minerals owns 100 percent of the world-class Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum project, which the company says is one of the biggest new lithium ore (spodumene) deposits in the world, with a globally significant hard-rock spodumene resource.

The asset's current mineral resource estimate comprises 222.5 million tonnes grading 1.26 percent spodumene, 116 parts per million tantalum pentoxide (tantalite) and 0.61 percent iron oxide, meaning there are 2.81 million tonnes of lithium oxide and 56.7 million pounds of tantalum pentoxide.

The company declared commercial production in April 2019 following sustained output and quality of spodumene concentrate from Stage 1 at Pilgangoora during the previous six months. Pilgangoora's Stage 3 will see processing capacity expand to 7.5 million tonnes per year, but it is on hold until market demand and/or the participation of a partner is sufficient to justify its development.

3. Orocobre (ASX:ORE)

Market cap: AU$1.02 billion; current share price: AU$3.05

Orocobre is building a substantial Argentina-based industrial chemicals and minerals company through the construction and operation of its portfolio of lithium brine, potash and boron projects and facilities.

Top Australian lithium stock Orocobre, in partnership with Toyota Tsusho (TSE:8015), has built the Olaroz lithium-producing facility in Northern Argentina, which is the world's first commercial lithium brine operation constructed in approximately 20 years. The company's recently announced Stage 2 Olaroz expansion will add 25,000 tonnes per year of lithium carbonate production capacity to reach 42,500 tonnes per year (at full production and capacity).

Additionally, Orocobre and Toyota Tsusho have started the construction of a 10,000 tonne per year lithium hydroxide plant in Naraha, Japan, with expected operating costs of US$1,500 per tonne.

Demand for lithium hydroxide, a key raw material used in lithium-ion batteries, is forecast to increase due to the expected adoption of higher-nickel cathodes in batteries for electric cars.

Aside from Olaroz, Orocobre owns Borax Argentina, an established Argentine boron minerals and refined chemicals producer.

4. Galaxy Resources (ASX:GXY)

Market cap: AU$669.5 million; current share price: AU$1.66

Galaxy Resources, another top Australian lithium stock, owns lithium production facilities, hard-rock mines and brine assets in Australia, Canada and Argentina. The company wholly owns the Mount Cattlin mine in Ravensthorpe, Western Australia, which is currently producing spodumene and tantalum concentrate, as well as the James Bay lithium pegmatite project in Quebec, Canada.

Galaxy is advancing plans to develop the Sal de Vida lithium brine and potash project in Argentina, which the company says has excellent potential as a low-cost, brine-based lithium carbonate production facility.

The asset has a maiden JORC-compliant reserve estimate of 1.1 million tonnes of retrievable lithium carbonate equivalent and 4.2 million tonnes of potassium chloride (potash or KCI) equivalent, which supports total annual production over a 40 year period.

5. Piedmont Lithium (ASX:PLL)

Market cap: AU$499.36 million; 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 mining companies such as Livent (NYSE:LTHM) and Albemarle (NYSE:ALB) have longstanding operations in this region.

The top Australian lithium stock'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.

Piedmont Lithium has signed a binding five year agreement with US electric vehicle maker Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) for the supply of spodumene concentrate from Piedmont's North Carolina deposit.

Don't forget to follow us @INN_Resource 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 is a client of the Investing News Network. This article is not paid-for content.

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Charger Metals (ASX:CHR) has launched its campaign on the Investing News Network

Charger Metals (ASX:CHR) focuses on lithium and other battery metal projects throughout Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Charger Metals currently has three projects in the exploration phase, with each project targeting lithium, nickel, copper or PGEs. The company has a strong management team composed of mining industry professionals with strong backgrounds in battery metals.

The Bynoe project is the company's flagship and covers 62.7 square kilometers. Located in the Northern Territory, the project is surrounded by a successful mine operated by Core Lithium Ltd. Finnis Lithium Project that has produced a total mineral inventory of 14.7 mt at 1.32 percent LiO2. The proximity of a world-class mine creates confidence that the Bynoe project will yield positive results.

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Lake Resources Managing Director Stephen Promnitz

Lake Resources (ASX:LKE,OTCQB:LLKKF) Managing Director Stephen Promnitz says Lake Resources has secured robust financing to scale up lithium production in preparation for the electric vehicle revolution.

Lake Resources has recently established a technology and funding partnership with Lilac Solutions, and the latter has announced $150 Million Series B to scale lithium supply for the electric vehicle era.

Lake Resources: Scaling Lithium Supply with $150 Million Series B Funding www.youtube.com

"Lilac Solutions are actually going to work with us and progressively earn into our flagship Kachi project, and then provide $50 million towards the development of that project. So come the end of October, we should have somewhere around $70 to $80 million in the bank, plus this $50 million commitment from Lilac going forward. And then if we have some additional $75 million options in June next year. Essentially, we can now see a pathway to the entire project being financed," Promnitz said.

Lake Resources and Lilac Solutions signed a partnership agreement wherein Lilac is able to achieve an equity stake in the Kachi project with project funding obligations while providing its leading technology to advance the project.

"There's a real deal here, and now value opportunity. But on top of that, we've de-risked it from the debt side and from the equity side. This project is going to happen, and not only that, we're going to be scaling it up to 50,000 tonnes per annum soon after we get into production. That will make us one of the top five producers in the lithium space."

Watch the full interview of Lake Resources Managing Director Stephen Promnitz above.

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Following an increased focus by electric vehicle makers on supply chain sustainability, Lake Resources NL (ASX:LKE,FWB:LK1,OTCQB:LLKKF) is advancing debt funding options for its flagship Kachi lithium project, and Managing Director Stephen Promnitz says the company is charging ahead to address the surge in battery market demand.

Lake Resources Managing Director: Definitive Feasibility Study for Kachi Lithium Project is Underway youtu.be

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LKE:AU

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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