A Look at Junior Lithium Stocks

Here’s a look at some of the lithium juniors around the world and what they’ve been up to lately.

Beyond the major lithium producers, Albemarle (NYSE:ALB), Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (NYSE:SQM) and FMC (NYSE:FMC), there are many smaller lithium companies looking to crack into the lithium space.
While it’s tough to keep up with what every lithium junior is up to, below we’ve provided brief overviews of what a number of them have been doing as of the end of Q1 2017. Read on to learn more, and if we’ve missed a lithium junior you think should be mentioned, please let us know in the comments. Companies are listed in alphabetical order, and had market caps of over $10 million as of March 31, 2017. This list focuses on stocks listed on Canadian, US and Australian exchanges.

Advantage Lithium (TSXV:AAL,OTCMKTS:AVLIF)

Market cap: $31.35 million
Advantage Lithium and Orocobre (TSX:ORL) have a partnership under which they are advancing the Cauchari project in Argentina. On March 29, Advantage officially acquired a 50-percent stake in Cauchari, as well 100-percent stakes in five other lithium brine properties belonging to Orocobre. Advantage has the right to increase its interest in Cauchari to 75 percent.
Aside from its work at Cauchari, Advantage has assets in Mexico and has drilled at lithium brines in Nevada’s Clayton Valley.

Altura Mining (ASX:AJM,OTCMKTS:ALTAF)

Market cap: $231.19 million
Altura Mining holds a number of coal and lithium projects in Australia and Indonesia, including the Pilgangoora lithium project in Western Australia. It is located immediately south of a project with the same name that belongs to Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS).
On March 14, the company said that its mining contractor has started bulk earthworks at the project. Altura believes it has a “clear pathway to production” in early 2018.

Argentina Lithium & Energy (TSXV:LIT)

Market cap: $10.57 million
Argentina Lithium & Energy’s goal is to acquire and develop high-quality lithium projects in Argentina in order to supply the lithium-ion battery market. It currently has the option to earn a 100-percent interest in the Arizaro lithium brine project, located in Argentina’s mining-friendly Salta province. The project covers 20,500 hectares, and is the third-largest property in the prolific “lithium triangle.”

Bacanora Minerals (TSXV:BCN,OTCMKTS:BCRMF)

Market cap: $160.47 million
Bacanora Minerals holds the Sonora lithium project, a clay-based project in Mexico. Bacanora has a joint venture agreement with London-listed Rare Earth Minerals (LSE:REM) over parts of the Sonora project. The company also owns the Magdalena borate project; it is in Mexico as well, and has the potential to help the company advance its lithium assets.

Centenera Mining (TSXV:CT,OTCMKTS:CTMIF)

Market cap: $11.06 million
Argentina-focused Centenera Mining’s key projects are the Huachi coppergold porphyry project, the Organullo gold project and the El Quemado tantalum-lithium project. Speaking about El Quemado, President, CEO and Director Keith Henderson has said, “our primary focus at El Quemado will of course be lithium, but the potential to produce tantalum as was done in the past adds tremendous value especially given the growing demand for conflict-free tantalum from the global market.”

Critical Elements (TSXV:CRE,OTCMKTS:CRECF)

Market cap: $111.68 million
Critical Elements is looking to advance its Rose lithium-tantalum project in Quebec. The company’s most recent news came in November 2016, when it reported high-grade lithium drill results at Lemare, another lithium project it holds in Quebec.

Dajin Resources (TSXV:DJI,OTCMKTS:DJIFF)

Market cap: $12.88 million
Dajin holds the Teels Marsh and Alkali Lake properties, located in Nevada close to Albemarle’s Silver Peak mine. It also owns the Salinas Grandes project in Argentina. On March 23, the company received its drill permit for Teels Marsh. Company President Brian Findlay said the permit has “been a long time coming.”

Enertopia (CSE:TOP,OTCQB:ENRT)

Market cap: $11.29 million
Enertopia describes itself as being actively engaged in generating transformative change in methods for recovering lithium from brine solutions. It is partnered with Genesis Water Technologies, and is looking at evaluating the feasibility of employing water treatment technology to recover lithium from brine. In March, Enertopia said that lithium carbonate purity testing on four lithium carbonate samples produced by Genesis Water Technologies was underway.

European Metals Holdings (ASX:EMH,LSE:EMH)

Market cap: $105.06 million
European Metals Holdings is advancing the Czech Republic-based Cinovec lithium-tin project. It is part of the historic Cinovec-Zinnwald Mining District, and over the last 600 years over 40,000 tonnes of tin have been extracted from the area. In February, the company upgraded the project’s indicated mineral resource, confirming its status as Europe’s largest lithium resource.

Frontier Lithium (TSXV:FL,OTCMKTS:HLKMF)

Market cap: $50.64 million
Frontier Lithium is advancing the PAK lithium project in Ontario. Exploration work done between 2013 and 2016 shows the deposit could be a near-term supplier of high-purity, technical-grade lithium concentrate. In February, the company began technical drilling at PAK, and said it expects a prefeasibility study to be done before the end of May.

International Lithium (TSXV:ILC)

Market cap: $11.48 million
International Lithium holds the Mariana lithium brine project in Argentina and the Avalonia hard-rock spodumene project in Ireland. It also has an interest in the Mavis lithium project in Canada, and has a partnership with China’s Ganfeng Lithium (SSE:002460).
The company provided an update on Mavis in March, noting that its strategic partner, Pioneer Resources (ASX:PIO), has completed the first drill program at the project. Prior to that, International Lithium, along with Ganfeng, provided a resource estimate for Mariana.

Li3 Energy (OTCMKTS:LIEG)

Market cap: $11.51 million
Li3 Energy’s main project is the Maricunga brine project in Chile, which covers approximately 1,888 hectares. The company holds a 49-percent interest in the project. In January, the company announced a merger under which it will be acquired by Bearing Resources (TSXV:BRZ).

LiCo Energy Metals (TSXV:LIC,OTCMKTS:WCTXF)

Market cap: $11.69 million
LiCo Energy Metals is focused on exploration of metals used for lithium-ion batteries, including cobalt. The company has projects spread across Canada, the US and Chile: three lithium and one cobalt.
In January 2017, LicCo signed an agreement with Durus Copper Chile SPA, where LiCo can earn up to a 60 percent interest in the Purickuta Lithium Exploration Concession. Then in February, the company announced plans to begin an exploration program at the project.

Lithium Americas (TSX:LAC,OTCMKTS:LACDF)

Market cap: $318.91 million
Formerly Western Lithium, Lithium Americas is developing the Cauchari-Olaroz brine deposit in Argentina with SQM. Lithium Americas is also developing a brine deposit in Nevada.
In January 2017, Lithium Americas and Ganfeng Lithium signed an investment agreement under which Ganfeng will fund the advancement of Cauchari-Olaroz for $174 million. As part of the agreement, Ganfeng acquired 19.9 percent of the outstanding shares of Lithium Americas. In March, Lithium Americas provided the results of the first stage of a feasibility study for Cauchari-Olaroz.

Lithium Australia (ASX:LIT)

Market cap: $34.81 million
Lithium Australia, previously Cobre Montana, is looking to produce lithium carbonate from lithium micas. It is partnered with Pilbara Minerals on the Pilgangoora project. The company also has a memorandum of understanding with Tin International to form a joint venture to develop the Sadisdorf tin project in Saxony Germany, where lithium mineralization is know to exist The partnership will conduct exploration metallurgical test work over 2017, with Lithium Australia earning an interest in the project
The company is in the midst of acquiring Lepidico (ASX:LPD).

Lithium X Energy (TSXV:LIX,OTCMKTS:LIXXF)

Market cap: $128.07 million
Lithium X Energy’s focus is on becoming a low-cost supplier for the lithium-ion battery market. Its main asset is the Sal de los Angeles project in Argentina’s “lithium triangle.” The property covers 8,156 hectares and contains high-grade brine — its previous operator invested about C$19 million into it. The company is also exploring the district-scale, 33,846-hectare Arizaro project.
Midway through March, the company closed a bough-deal public offering for aggregate gross proceeds of C$15,010,000.

MGX Minerals (CSE:XMG)

Market cap: $57.61 million
Diversified resource company MGX Minerals is engaged in the development of large-scale industrial mineral portfolios in western Canada, and currently holds lithium, magnesium and silicon projects in both BC and Alberta.
The company has a unique approach to sourcing lithium carbonate and other valuable minerals from the salt water that accompanies petroleum as it’s being pumped to the surface. This salt water is currently treated as a waste product, and MGX eventually hopes to integrate its extraction technique with existing environmental disposal systems in oil and gas fields. Currently it is working to integrate its system with PurLucid Treatment solutions’ technology, which separates impurities from oil industry waste streams to produce clean water as a final product.

Millenial Lithium (TSXV:ML,OTCMKTS:MLNLF)

Market cap: $56.1 million
Millenial Lithium is focused on becoming one of Argentina’s next lithium producers. Its flagship project is the advanced-stage Pastos Grandes lithium project in the country’s Salta province. Its other projects include the Cauchari East and Cruz project, both of which are also located in Argentina. The company recently closed a private placement for proceeds of $5,937,500; it plans to put the money toward 43-101 resource drilling and general working capital.

Nemaska Lithium (TSX:NMX,OTCMKTS:NMKEF)

Market cap: $416.74 million
Nemaska Lithium is a near-term producer, and plans to supply the battery market. It is one of the only companies in the world looking to produce lithium hydroxide directly instead of from lithium carbonate.
The company is developing its Whabouchi mine in Quebec, which is said to be the second-richest and largest lithium deposit in the world. The company announced in mid-March that it had produced up to 6.65 percent lithium oxide concentrate at Whabouchi. “With this concentrate production we have met another important milestone as we continue to de-risk our project,” said President and CEO Guy Bourassa.

Neometals (ASX:NMT)

Market cap: $171.72 million
Neometals is focused on advancing the Mt Marion lithium project with its partner, Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN). The companies are also developing the Kalgoorlie lithium hydroxide facility. In March, they announced that the second shipment from Mt Marion, which clocked in at 16,662 tonnes, had been shipped to Ganfeng Lithium’s receiving facility in China.

Nevada Sunrise Gold (TSXV:NEV)

Market cap: $11.76 million
Nevada Sunrise Gold is focused on gold as well as lithium in Nevada. It holds three high-grade gold properties in addition to interests in six lithium properties covering a combined 20,000 acres within and adjacent to Clayton Valley. Advantage Lithium has the option to earn working interests in five of Nevada Sunrise’s lithium projects, and in March the two companies announced results from the first borehole at one of those properties.

Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS,OTCMKTS:PILBF)

Market cap: $542.57 million
As noted, Pilbara Minerals is focused on advancing its Pilgangoora project in Western Australia with Lithium Australia. It also recently acquired a stake in the Mt Franciso project. According to a press release, the company can earn up to an 80-percent interest in the project through funding $1 million in exploration and completing a feasibility study.

Pure Energy Minerals (TSXV:PE,OTCMKTS:PEMIF)

Market cap: $33.78 million
Pure Energy Minerals holds the Clayton Valley South project in Nevada. It plans to develop the project two stages. The first stage would involve pumping lithium brine to the surface, then extracting lithium, among other things, at a processing facility. The second stage would come after the commissioning of the first stage, and would include increasing the throughput of the processing facility by way of battery material and lithium waste streams.
The company is currently looking to expand its portfolio in Argentina. In March, it closed its acquisition of a purchase option agreement on the Terra Cotta project. Pure Energy has also started technical evaluation and design for its exploration program for the first half of 2017.

Wealth Minerals (TSXV:WML,OTCMKTS:WMLLF)

Market cap: $115.14 million
Wealth Minerals is focused on acquiring lithium projects in South America, and one of its main assets is the Atacama project in Chile. The company also holds the Trinity project, which is a consolidation of projects on three separate salars within close proximity to each in northern Chile: the Aguas Caleintes Norte, Pujsa and Quisquiro salars.

Other lithium juniors

As mentioned, the companies listed above all had market caps above $10 million as of March 31, 2017. But there are many lithium juniors with market caps under that amount that are worth watching. Some of those companies include: Alset Energy (TSXV:ION), Cypress Development (TSXV:CYP), Evolving Gold (CSE:EVG,OTCMKTS:EVOGF), Eureka Resources (TSXV:EUK), Iconic Minerals (TSXV:ICM,OTCMKTS:BVTEF), Kairos Capital (TSXV:KRS), Macarthur Minerals (TSXV:MMS), Nevada Energy Metals (TSXV:BFF,OTCMKTS:SSLMF), Noram Ventures (TSXV:NRM,OTCBB:NRVTF), NRG Metals (TSXV:NGZ,OTCMKTS:GPOFF), Sienna Resources (TSXV:SIE,OTCBB:SNNAF) and Stria Lithium (TSXV:SRA).
Galaxy Resources (ASX:GXY,OTCMKTS:GALXF) and Orocobre (TSX:ORL,ASX:ORE,OTCMKTS:OROCF) are examples of lithium companies that have recently begun production.
Securities Disclosure: I, Jocelyn Aspa, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
Editorial Disclosure: Advantage Lithium, Alset Energy, Critical Elements, Cypress Development, Dajin Resources, Evolving Gold, Frontier Lithium, Galaxy Resources, LiCo Energy Metals, Lithium Australia, Macarthur Minerals, MGX Minerals, Nemaska Lithium, Nevada Energy Metals, Noram Ventures, Sienna Resources and Stria Lithium are clients of the Investing News Network. This article is not paid-for content.

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gold bars

2020 was a banner year for gold-backed ETF inflows, but interest has lagged this year as investors become more comfortable taking risks.

In 2020, gold-backed exchange-traded fund (ETF) inflows ballooned to an impressive 877 tonnes, marking the largest one year intake in ETF history.

Investor appetite was fueled by economic stimulus mixed with concerns about COVID-19 closures, which together brought risk-averse buyers to the yellow metal in droves, propelling investment demand.

"Over the first three quarters of 2020, gold ETFs accounted for almost two-thirds of total investment demand," notes a monthly ETF report released by the World Gold Council (WGC) in January.


"This is significantly higher than any previous full year. Gold ETF demand was also equivalent to a quarter of the average annual gold mine production over the past five years."

Since then, gold ETF demand has waned as investors become more comfortable taking risks. So far, 2021 has seen outflows of 269.1 tonnes compared to 87.6 tonnes of inflows. Of the first 10 months of the year, six registered net outflows from the ETF segment.

In fact, a large part of gold's muted Q3 price performance has been attributed to a 7 percent decline in demand coming largely from the ETF segment. This trend continued in October, when gold ETF holdings shed 25.5 tonnes.

"Global gold ETF holdings fell to 3,567 tonnes (US$203 billion) during the month — notching year-to-date low levels — as investor appetite for gold diminished in the ETF space following price declines in August and September," an October WGC gold ETF report states.

After two months of pressure pushed the gold price to a six month low at the end of September, October saw the metal begin to rebound from the US$1,750 per ounce range to US$1,819.

Adam Perlaky, senior analyst at the WGC, told the Investing News Network (INN) that gold's price positivity in October was largely driven by growing inflationary tones.

"In recent years, gold has been inversely correlated with nominal interest rates, and yet gold strengthened during the month despite higher nominal rates," he said via email. "This is likely a result of rising inflation expectations, though changes in the relative move in interest rates may have had an impact."

He added, "Though higher rates could be a headwind for gold, broader concerns of inflation and a potential recession highlight gold's value as an effective portfolio hedge."

The role of gold amid uncertainty

Gold's use as a hedge against inflation is likely to come into focus in the coming months, a sentiment that was echoed by Juan Carlos Artigas, head of research at the WGC.

Artigas explained that while some are of the belief that the "elements of high inflation we've seen so far are transitory" and will dissipate, there will be longer-term reverberations from the current inflation, and potential secondary effects from the fiscal and monetary policies that were put in place to restart the economy.

In mid-November, JP Morgan (NYSE:JPM) said it anticipates that the US Federal Reserve will raise rates in September 2022 by 0.25 percent, followed by 25 basis point increases on a quarterly basis until real rates hit zero.

"Gold still can face headwinds from potentially higher interest rates," said Artigas.

"(The) opportunity cost of holding gold is one of the drivers of performance, and especially in the short and the medium term, interest rates tend to influence gold's behavior significantly, especially in a period where investors are looking to understand how central banks will behave."

However, as the head of research at the WGC pointed out, there are also some tailwinds that could move gold higher, including inflation that may not be transient, but more structural.

He also pointed out that interest rates are still historically very low, which has pushed investors to make their portfolios more risky. Hedging against this type of exposure is positive for gold's investment side. Additionally, on the consumer side, US infrastructure spending could also serve as a catalyst to more gold upside.

"What we know historically is that better economic growth tends to support consumption of gold, whether it is in the form of jewelry or technology, and 2021 is a good example of that, where you saw the contraction in gold-backed ETF holdings, you (also) saw an increase in demand coming from jewelry, technology and even bar and coin investment," Artigas commented to INN.

Another factor the researcher is watching is central bank gold holdings, which are on track for a 12th consecutive year of inflows. Artigas noted that a 2021 survey of central bankers conducted by the WGC found that the monetary institutes are interested in "expanding the role that gold has in foreign reserves."

"We do expect central banks to continue to be net buyers," he said, adding, "We have seen investors, especially more strategic longer-term investors, taking advantage of the price pullback that we saw in previous months as an opportunity to add gold to their portfolios."

For investors wanting to look at the strategic role gold has played throughout history, the WGC recently released a five part documentary series titled The Golden Thread.

The price of gold was at the US$1,790 level on November 25.

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

Securities Disclosure: I, Georgia Williams, 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.

Commercially viable scandium deposits are rare, making widespread use of the metal tricky. However, there is indeed opportunity in the space.

Scandium is a critical metal that is as strong as titanium, as light as aluminum and as hard as ceramic.

While it is more abundant than lead, mercury and all the precious metals, there are no pure scandium-producing mines. The rare earth element is often a by-product, produced from refining other metals, including uranium.

Pure scandium metal rarely concentrates at higher grades alongside other metals, making commercially usable scandium deposits very rare. What's more, even when scandium is found at elevated levels, processing it can be difficult, leading to very few stable sources of this critical metal.


Not surprisingly, that means there has been very little adoption of scandium in commercial applications. However, as John Kaiser of Kaiser Research has pointed out several times in the past few years, as well as more recently, that doesn't mean there hasn't been research into how scandium could be used in the future.

"Hundreds of applications (have been) filed, many of them related to alloys with aluminum," he said in an interview with the Investing News Network. "This obscure metal is going to go ballistic in the next few years."

Kaiser made that statement a few years back, and scandium has yet to go ballistic. But he still has hope for the metal, and it could yet have its day in the sun.

Below is an overview of the scandium market. Topics covered include current production, newcomers to the space and the metal's potentially bright future.

Current scandium production

The first known large-scale scandium production was associated with Russian military programs. Details are lost to history, but Russians reportedly alloyed the metal with aluminum to make lightweight MIG fighter parts. Mining at these historic Russian production sites has ceased, but stockpiles of scandium oxide and scandium master alloy remain in Russia. These stockpiles are rumored to be dwindling, but continue to be offered for sale on the market.

Today, most scandium is produced as a by-product during the processing of other ores, such as uranium or rare earths, or recovered from previously processed tailings. As a result, scandium supply can be affected by the supply and demand dynamics of the metals it is produced with. That can make the metal's already tough-to-follow market dynamics even more difficult to understand.

According to the US Geological Survey, scandium-producing countries include China, where it is a by-product of iron ore, rare earths, titanium and zirconium; and the Philippines, where it is a by-product of nickel. Scandium is also produced as a by-product of uranium in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.

More US production could be on the horizon as well after a push in legislation that encourages the Department of Defense to look into the potential uses of the metal. Environmental and construction permits have been approved for NioCorp's (TSX:NB,OTCQX:NIOBF) polymetallic Elk Creek project with probable reserves estimated to be 36 million tonnes containing 65.7 parts per million scandium.

Scandium resources have been identified in minerals-rich regions across the world, most notably in Australia, where a number of junior mining companies are working to develop scandium deposits in New South Wales. These include Scandium International Mining (TSX:SCY), which controls the Nyngan project; Clean TeQ Holdings (ASX:CLQ,OTCQX:CTEQF), which holds the Sunrise project; and Platina Resources (ASX:PGM,OTC Pink:PTNUF), which is working on the Owendale project.

Scandium price and trading

The US Geological Survey states that the global scandium market is "small relative to most other metals." This is exemplified by global production and consumption, which is only an estimated 15 to 20 metric tons annually.

The US Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission do not have specific data on trading for the metal. Furthermore, there is no formal buy/sell market today — scandium is not traded on an exchange and there are no terminal or futures markets.

Instead, the metal is traded between private parties, mostly at undisclosed prices and in undisclosed amounts. Therefore, understanding the precise volume of production and cost of scandium is difficult, and independent estimations are more relevant.

Production estimates are based on levels of trader activity and interest, as well as the knowledge that some traders deal in the critical metal from very small operations.

The estimates also include consumers believed to be sourcing their own scandium through small, controlled recovery operations, but don't consider amounts of the metal contained in the master alloy currently being sold from Russian stockpiles.

The scandium opportunity

Analysts expect the global scandium market to grow at a compound annual growth rate of above 11 percent between 2020 and 2025. "The major factors driving the growth of the market studied are the accelerating usage in solid oxide fuel cells, and the rising demand for aluminum-scandium alloys," notes ReportLinker.

Despite the lack of known, stable supply, scientists and engineers have been working hard to develop new products incorporating the metal. Scandium's potential in high-tech applications is well documented. Highlights of the metal's properties include:

  • It can be used in the creation of stronger, corrosion-resistant, heat-tolerant and weldable aluminum alloys for lightweight aircraft and automobiles.
  • Its outstanding electrical properties and heat resistance are valuable for solid oxide fuel cells.
  • It has unique optical properties for high-intensity lamps.

A recent Kaiser Research report on scandium details the wide variety of end uses for scandium now and into the future, as well as where potential supply to meet that demand may originate.

potential scandium oxide supply and demand

Potential scandium oxide supply and demand.

Kaiser Research

As Kaiser has explained, "There's an enormous latent demand for scandium if it ever became available on a primary, scalable basis."

In other words, the only barrier to accessing demand from a new family of high-performance aluminum materials and energy/lighting products is the lack of commercially viable larger-scale scandium production. Interestingly, Kaiser's work highlights two important scandium market events that may "have the potential to launch scandium demand growth over the next decade towards a 1,000 (tonne per annum) market worth US$2 billion."

For one, Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO,ASX:RIO,LSE:RIO) announced in 2020 that it has developed a route to recovery for scandium at its Sorel-Tracy facility in Quebec, where it produces titanium slag from the Lac Tio iron-titanium deposit. In mid-2021, Rio Tinto began commercial-scale operations at its new scandium oxide production facility.

"The Rio Tinto development is a game changer for the scandium sector," said Kaiser, who believes the increase in scandium production could help boost the sector.

Secondly, Scandium International Mining filed an application in late 2019 for a patent protecting a method for recovering scandium and other metals from the waste streams of copper oxide leaching operations. In mid-2020, the company announced that copper raffinate tests showed its patent-pending process could recover enough scandium to match the supply being added to the market by Rio Tinto.

"Conditions are finally right for scandium to become the ideal lightweighting solution for aluminum," Kaiser said in his note to investors.

This is an updated version of an article originally published by the Investing News Network in 2014.

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

Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, 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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