Ground Breakers: Another battery metals bull run sends lithium superpowers to record highs, but Lynas runs dry
Lithium companies, battered and bruised after Goldman Sachs sent investors running for the hills in May with a bearish prediction of a price crash, are back on top of their games.
Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS) has risen an astonishing 47.52% over the past month to a new all time high today of $4.78.
That gives the miner a market cap of over $14 billion, outpacing every gold miner on the ASX barring Newcrest (ASX:NCM).
PLS wasn’t the only lithium miner picking up tailwinds today. Allkem (ASX:AKE) rose almost 3% to $15.99, another record taking its MC beyond the $10 billion mark.
A host of mid-tier battery metals stocks also reported big gains.
News of MinRes’ proposed spinoff of its lithium assets into a separate New York listed company has sent brokers rushing to update their price decks for lithium.
Investment bankers Barrenjoey upgraded their lithium price predictions by between 36 and 86% for 2023 and 2024, upgrading their price targets on IGO and MinRes from $13.50 to $15.50 and $67 to $77, respectively.
Fastmarkets’ assessed lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate prices continue to edge higher, assessed at US$77/kg and US$73.5/kg respectively overnight, up from around US$40,000/t at the end of 2021.
Not all in the battery metals realm are on the charge today, with rare earths giant Lynas (ASX:LYC) muted after announcing a major disruption to production at its downstream separation plant in Kuantan, Malaysia.
The Kuantan plant is the only heavy rare earths separation project of scale outside of China, which controls around 80% of the market for the materials used in permanent magnets for EVs and wind turbines.
Water issues have previously been disclosed by the company but were expected to subside in August.
A catastrophic equipment failure early this month means Lynas’ provider PAIP has not been able to supply the area for the past seven days.
Initially supposed to be fixed by Saturday, it will now take another week, likely putting a big dent in NdPr production for the September quarter.
“Lynas expects that water supply from PAIP will remain unpredictable until at least the end of September 2022,” the company said.
“Whilst Lynas’ alternative strategies will support some continued production during September, it will fall short of the level achieved in July and August 2022.
“It is not possible to quantify the exact shortfall in September whilst water supply remains unpredictable.
“The PAIP water supply issue will significantly affect production during this quarter. However, with the implementation of additional strategies, the effect on the full year result is not expected to be material.”