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.
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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.