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ASX Lithium Stocks: 5 Biggest Companies in 2023
Lithium demand has surged over the last couple of years, attracting investor attention. Before jumping in, learn about the top Australian lithium stocks by market cap.
After hitting all-time highs in 2022, lithium prices came under pressure in early 2023 due to rising supply.
However, prices have since experienced a slight resurgence, with international sellers limiting the release of goods to create a perception of scarcity. Looking longer term, experts are predicting positive growth in the years to come — they expect demand for electric vehicles and energy storage systems to continue lifting the lithium market, and lithium-mining stocks as well.
Australia, the world’s largest producer of lithium, is home to a number of global lithium miners, and investors interested in getting exposure to the market may want to start by getting familiar with these big-name players.
With this in mind, the Investing News Network has listed the top five ASX lithium stocks by market cap. All information in this list was generated using TradingView’s stock screener on September 14, 2023.
1. Mineral Resources
Market cap: AU$13.31 billion; current share price: AU$68.71
Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN) is a Perth-based mining company with a focus on the iron ore and hard-rock lithium sectors in Western Australia. The company's current lithium assets include Mount Marion and Wodgina.
In 2022, Mineral Resources and its joint venture partner Albemarle (NYSE:ALB) recommenced operations at Wodgina in response to surging lithium demand; they produced the first spodumene concentrate from train 1 in June of last year, and from train 2 last July. The company hopes to produce lithium hydroxide at Wodgina within the next five years.
The Mount Marion lithium project — located in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia — was upgraded this year to a production rate of 600,000 tonnes per year of mixed-grade product.
In August, Mineral Resources partnered with battery materials company Lithium Australia (ASX:LIT,OTC Pink:LMMFF) on a pilot plant to test the potential of the latter's LieNA technology for enhancing lithium extraction yields. Subject to the results of the pilot plant study, the companies may enter a 50/50 joint venture to commercialise the technology.
2. Pilbara Minerals
Market cap: AU$13.23 billion; current share price: AU$4.39
Pilbara Minerals' (ASX:PLS) fully owned Pilgangoora operation has a range of global partners and produces spodumene and tantalite concentrate. The operation includes two processing plants called Pilgan and Ngungaju; the former produces both a spodumene concentrate and a tantalite concentrate, while the latter solely produces a spodumene concentrate.
In the third quarter of 2023, Pilbara Minerals concluded the optimisation and ramp up of the Ngungaju plant, achieving its target production capacity of 180,000 to 200,000 tonnes per annum of spodumene concentrate.
Pilbara Minerals has long-term agreements with several high-ranking companies, including China’s Ganfeng Lithium (OTC Pink:GNENF,SZSE:002460), Great Wall Motor Company (OTC Pink:GWLLF,HKEX:2333), Yibin Tianyi and General Lithium.
Market cap: AU$9.97 billion; current share price: AU$13.24
Exploration and mining company IGO (ASX:IGO) has a portfolio of battery metals projects, including the Nova nickel-copper-cobalt operation, the Forrestania nickel operation and the Cosmos nickel operation in Western Australia. The company’s battery metals interests also include a lithium joint venture with Tianqi Lithium (OTC Pink:TQLCF,SZSE:002466). The resultant company, called Tianqi Lithium Energy Australia, holds a 51 percent stake in the Greenbushes lithium mine in Western Australia. Ultimately, IGO owns an indirect 24.99 percent interest in the mine.
In its quarterly activities report for the year ended on June 30, IGO highlights record quarterly production at Greenbushes and EBITDA margins of over 90 percent, which the company said demonstrate "the world-class nature of this asset."
Market cap: AU$8.14 billion; current share price: AU$12.65
Allkem (ASX:AKE) is a specialty lithium chemicals company based out of Brisbane that was formed when lithium supplier Orocobre merged with Galaxy Lithium in November 2021. Allkem currently owns and runs operations for seven different projects in Argentina, Japan, Australia and Canada. Through its growth strategy, the company is aiming to triple its production by 2026, while maintaining output of 10 percent of the world’s lithium for the next decade. Holding to that plan, the company began production of lithium hydroxide at its Japan-based Naraha plant in late 2022.
In May of this year, Allkem and Livent (NYSE:LTHM) agreed to a US$10.6 billion merger to create the world's third largest lithium-producing company. The deal is expected to close by the end of 2023. This past August, Allkem released the financial results for its 2023 fiscal year, reporting record-breaking profits. Highlights include annual group revenue of US$1.21 billion and a record profit of US$524.6 million, representing year-on-year increases of about 47 percent and 44 percent, respectively.
These results were in large part thanks to the firm's increased production of lithium. Its Olaroz lithium facility, for example, achieved record annual production of 16,703 tonnes, a change of 30 percent from the previous period.
5. Liontown Resources
Market cap: AU$6.67 billion; current share price: AU$3.03
Liontown Resources (ASX:LTR) has two projects located in Western Australia, which is rich in resources. The Kathleen Valley project is expected to become a top battery metals provider and is projected to begin development in Q2 2024. The company's Buldania project has an initial mineral resource of 15 million tonnes at 1 percent lithium oxide.
Liontown has a binding power purchase agreement with Zenith Energy, a globally reaching but independent Canadian oil and gas company. This agreement is for Zenith to design a power station that will supply Liontown’s Kathleen project with wind- and solar-generated electricity for at least the next 15 years.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Matthew Flood, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
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