Battery metals: Uranium play Berkeley diversifies as EU demands local lithium, cobalt supply
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“If you have a look at something that hasn’t performed well but has good tailwind fundamentals behind it, I believe that’s uranium,” says Arun Sengupta, executive director at Canary Capital.
Right now, you could say the same for battery metals, like cobalt and lithium.
For uranium, there are about 50 nuclear power reactors currently under construction and another 400 planned or proposed. As for battery metals, just look at how much cobalt and lithium (and the rest) the UK will need to meet its 2050 EV targets.
The point is, demand for both uranium and battery-related metals are expected to surge in the medium term for different reasons.
Spanish uranium play Berkeley Energia (ASX:BKY) – which is working to get its Salamanca uranium project up and running – is also planning to tap the surging euro-focussed battery material market.
The explorer has just kicked off a maiden 13-hole, 3350m drill program to test for lithium, cobalt, tin, tungsten and rare earths.
The first area being targeted was previously mined for tin and high-grade lithium, and has reported “significant cobalt anomalies”, Berkeley managing director Paul Atherley says.
“The commencement of an exploration programme for battery and EV metals is an important step as it allows the company to build on the excellent work the team has done in generating targets across our large licence holding over the past two years,” says Atherley.
Australian Vanadium (ASX:AVL) could recycle water from nearby historic gold mining pits to use in its proposed processing plant. AVL has signed an MOU to utilise the “significant amounts of water” flowing into several active and inactive mines at Westgold’s (ASX:WGX) neighbouring Meekatharra Gold Operations. AVL says this could shorten the environmental approvals process; reduce environmental impacts; and substantially de-risk the project’s water volume and quality requirements.
There’s even an opportunity to receive NAIF (Northern Australian Infrastructure Fund) cash during construction, the company says.
Piedmont Lithium (ASX:PLL) is optimistic it’s on track to “identify North America’s largest spodumene ore body”. The US hard rock lithium explorer just boosted its project-wide resource estimate by 47 per cent to 27.9 million tonnes @ 1.11 per cent Li2O. This includes a 55 per cent increase on the Core property to 25.1 million tonnes @ 1.09 per cent Li2O.
A “pre-feasibility level” metallurgical test work program will be followed by a Scoping Study update in July 2019.