• Koch Industries buys company stakes worth ~US$500m covering battery tech, raw materials, chemicals, and recycling: Benchmark Mineral Intelligence
  • Lithium prices keep rising, carbonate gets price premium
  • Weekly ASX standouts include Ecograf (ASX:EGR) and Prospect Resources (ASX:PSC)

Our High Voltage column wraps all the news driving ASX stocks with exposure to lithium, cobalt, graphite, nickel, rare earths, and vanadium.

 

As investors, it is always good to know where the big money is flowing.

Koch Industries — led by billionaire (many times over) Charles Koch — was America’s largest private company in 2020, with revenues for the 2019 calendar of ~$US115 billion, according to Forbes. As of August 2021, Charles Koch was ranked as the 20th richest person in the world on Bloomberg Billionaires Index, with an estimated net worth of $US61.1 billion.

Built on oil, Koch Industries also has its fingers in everything from ranching, minerals, finance, and commodities trading through to tech, consumer goods… and now batteries.

The Wichita-based company has recently built up stakes worth ~US$500m in the battery ecosystem covering several different battery technologies, raw materials, chemicals, and recycling, according to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.

These include battery recycler Li-Cycle, solid-state start-up Solid Power, a joint venture with Norwegian battery company Freyr to potentially build a Gigafactory in the US, and now a $100m stake in NYSE and TSX listed lithium project developer Standard Lithium.

Standard’s flagship project is in southern Arkansas, where it is aiming to extract lithium from brines using an innovative technique called Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE), which is ostensibly cheaper, quicker, and more environmentally friendly than existing processes.

ASX-listed project developers Lake Resources (ASX:LKE) and Vulcan Energy (ASX:VUL) also plan to use DLE.

“We’re entering an important phase for Standard Lithium, and we’re thrilled to be starting it with a globally recognized industrial leader like Koch Strategic Platforms as a partner,” Standard CEO Robert Mintak says.

“KSP has an impressive track record of investing in disruptive technologies and their backing is an important endorsement of the company’s core technology, development plans and of our intent to make the Gulf Region a leading supplier of lithium resources.”

 

Lithium prices keep rising, carbonate gets price premium

Supply of battery-grade lithium carbonate in the seaborne East Asian market was further squeezed this week, applying further upward pressure to prices, Fastmarkets says.

“One of our suppliers has no spare capacity for lithium carbonate. They will focus primarily on honoring long-term commitments and will not allocate any extra [units for the spot market],” a consumer source active in both the European and East Asian markets said.

“Adding to the tightness of the market is the backlog of shipping that is causing delays, which is also making it difficult to get hold of material,” the consumer source added.

This increased demand for battery-grade lithium carbonate in China, at a time when supply is already tight, caused the price rally in China to accelerate, market sources said.

Fastmarkets sources say prices for carbonate are trading at a premium to hydroxide because the lithium-iron-phosphate battery market – which uses carbonate – is going mental.

In July, the sale of lithium iron (LFP) phosphate batteries for electric vehicles in China surpassed the incumbent NCM/NCA chemistries for the first time since the start of 2019.

In batteries with LFP chemistry, phosphate serves as the cathode material. NCM (lithium nickel cobalt manganese) batteries use a combination of nickel, manganese, and cobalt for the cathode, while NCMA (nickel, cobalt, manganese, aluminium) chemistry features a 90% nickel cathode.

Because iron and phosphate are more common than cobalt and nickel, LFP batteries are ~$US18 cheaper than NCM/NCA per kWh to manufacture, according to SNE Research.

The downside is that they have lower energy densities which makes them unsuitable for longer driving ranges. That is not really an issue for the stock standard work commute though, which explains their popularity.

“Due to the optimism of lithium-iron-phosphate batteries in China, the market sees more room for lithium battery-grade carbonate price to rise. Therefore, some traders are holding their units in tight hands,” a trader in China told Fastmarkets.

“Lithium carbonate is still squeezed and as long as cathode materials producers need to operate, they have no choice but to restock with expensive units,” a second producer source in China said.

“The future of NCM [nickel-cobalt-manganese] batteries looks less promising than that of LFP [lithium-iron-phosphate] batteries, so demand for lithium hydroxide is weaker than that of lithium carbonate, which keeps the price [of battery-grade lithium hydroxide] stable. Its supply was also less tight,” another trader said.

 

Battery Metals Winners and Losers

Here’s how a basket of ASX stocks with exposure to lithium, cobalt, graphite, nickel, rare earths, and vanadium are performing>>>

CODE COMPANY 1 WEEK RETURN % 1 MONTH RETURN % 6 MONTH RETURN % 1 YEAR RETURN % SHARE PRICE MARKET CAP
MNS Magnis Energy Tech 23 44 96 209 0.54 $ 512,706,111.13
DEV Devex Resources Ltd 22 111 85 133 0.675 $ 204,200,621.30
EGR Ecograf Limited 20 27 29 353 0.815 $ 346,756,763.43
NIC Nickel Mines Limited 17 31 36 33 1.39 $ 3,508,465,526.15
PSC Prospect Res Ltd 15 52 332 436 0.67 $ 310,679,562.88
AVL Aust Vanadium Ltd 12 8 40 100 0.028 $ 91,879,454.97
S2R S2 Resources 11 144 35 -25 0.21 $ 76,620,593.83
REE Rarex Limited 11 0 22 -5 0.105 $ 47,417,286.42
LTR Liontown Resources 9 2 386 674 1.855 $ 3,546,163,398.61
MIN Mineral Resources. 9 13 4 41 44.99 $ 8,220,649,684.83
ATM Aneka Tambang 8 1 11 11 1.11 $ 1,447,050.39
GSR Greenstone Resources 7 7 38 -9 0.029 $ 23,405,281.98
BHP BHP Group Limited 7 2 -16 -1 38.85 $ 112,198,060,513.82
AQD Ausquest Limited 6 0 -22 0 0.018 $ 14,817,416.96
PLS Pilbara Min Ltd 6 10 119 266 2.49 $ 7,377,970,864.96
TNG TNG Limited 5 -38 -7 -16 0.08 $ 108,296,137.33
AVZ AVZ Minerals Ltd 5 77 306 608 0.63 $ 1,979,176,198.20
BEM Blackearth Minerals 4 -4 0 179 0.12 $ 25,000,455.71
G88 Golden Mile Res Ltd 4 -2 -17 -7 0.05 $ 8,550,916.40
ORE Orocobre Limited 4 -1 52 136 9.47 $ 6,056,493,067.00
VRC Volt Resources Ltd 4 -7 -30 180 0.028 $ 74,137,760.34
TLG Talga Group Ltd 3 17 18 -8 1.84 $ 528,662,340.47
SLZ Sultan Resources Ltd 3 -11 -42 -32 0.16 $ 10,430,158.35
VUL Vulcan Energy 3 -30 47 346 10.49 $ 1,269,304,783.25
COB Cobalt Blue Ltd 3 -15 12 289 0.385 $ 113,428,801.86
QPM Queensland Pacific 3 -15 86 377 0.205 $ 264,344,560.55
MMC Mitremining 2 -7 0.21 $ 5,552,445.50
LYC Lynas Rare Earths 2 17 57 129 8.46 $ 7,625,377,631.30
LEG Legend Mining 2 -27 -56 -47 0.051 $ 143,267,057.49
MOH Moho Resources 2 2 -25 -42 0.061 $ 7,546,524.12
NWC New World Resources 1 -5 -22 37 0.074 $ 119,020,777.20
MLX Metals X Limited 1 7 57 382 0.4 $ 362,906,426.80
LKE Lake Resources 1 -11 233 1295 0.865 $ 1,022,851,437.72
ARL Ardea Resources Ltd 1 2 6 17 0.495 $ 70,397,451.69
GLN Galan Lithium Ltd 1 15 129 412 1.51 $ 442,863,807.57
BSX Blackstone Ltd 1 -18 73 73 0.58 $ 219,688,522.13
AR3 Austrare 0 21 1.025 $ 44,783,327.00
IGO IGO Limited 0 4 40 115 10.195 $ 7,693,840,980.08
IGO IGO Limited 0 4 40 115 10.195 $ 7,693,840,980.08
CNJ Conico Ltd 0 0 36 6 0.038 $ 37,007,950.34
MRC Mineral Commodities 0 -23 -45 -67 0.115 $ 58,848,969.74
AJM Altura Mining Ltd 0 0 0 0 0.063161 $ 214,798,472.24
LML Lincoln Minerals 0 0 0 0 0.008 $ 4,599,869.49
GL1 Globallith 0 33 131 0.59 $ 64,160,816.14
ADV Ardiden Ltd 0 9 20 -43 0.012 $ 25,840,024.27
GED Golden Deeps 0 -8 9 -20 0.012 $ 9,310,217.28
PLL Piedmont Lithium Inc 0 -11 -2 105 0.79 $ 436,031,494.00
GBR Greatbould Resources 0 -13 12 181 0.14 $ 46,440,655.17
VIA Viagold Rare Earth 0 0 2339 10426 2 $ 166,624,808.00
SYR Syrah Resources 0 0 17 49 1.175 $ 600,975,341.22
EMH European Metals Hldg -1 0 19 84 1.395 $ 187,982,889.43
LPI Lithium Pwr Int Ltd -1 -3 127 72 0.465 $ 160,434,130.08
MCR Mincor Resources NL -1 -13 28 26 1.22 $ 598,168,989.60
OZL OZ Minerals -2 1 9 59 25.63 $ 8,574,932,806.10
PGM Platina Resources -2 -14 -12 45 0.064 $ 27,366,087.55
ILU Iluka Resources -2 -11 12 56 8.41 $ 3,512,579,438.60
CTM Centaurus Metals Ltd -2 -7 43 83 1.06 $ 367,790,085.64
SRI Sipa Resources Ltd -2 -13 -5 -27 0.052 $ 11,229,754.09
ARN Aldoro Resources -2 -3 32 194 0.455 $ 39,566,547.11
ARN Aldoro Resources -2 -3 32 194 0.455 $ 39,566,547.11
GME GME Resources Ltd -2 -5 18 8 0.0625 $ 37,421,418.01
TON Triton Min Ltd -2 25 5 -11 0.04 $ 45,378,722.68
RXL Rox Resources -3 -3 -27 -52 0.37 $ 59,102,855.25
CZN Corazon Ltd -3 -8 -19 -42 0.035 $ 10,547,499.98
LEL Lithenergy -3 23 107 0.86 $ 39,600,000.00
AGY Argosy Minerals Ltd -5 -8 195 304 0.2625 $ 340,580,571.48
NMT Neometals Ltd -5 3 136 347 1.04 $ 575,795,215.80
NMT Neometals Ltd -5 3 136 347 1.04 $ 575,795,215.80
CHR Charger Metals -5 -2 0.415 $ 13,453,034.70
AAJ Aruma Resources Ltd -5 -14 22 -27 0.077 $ 8,817,305.21
RBX Resource B -5 -7 459 459 0.19 $ 7,789,779.08
PAM Pan Asia Metals -5 -21 280 206 0.475 $ 34,987,855.90
INR Ioneer Ltd -5 -10 95 126 0.645 $ 1,332,856,459.35
SRL Sunrise -5 -14 -14 -30 1.7375 $ 165,256,207.97
POS Poseidon Nick Ltd -5 -15 44 24 0.089 $ 278,820,316.87
RFR Rafaella Resources -6 -11 -31 -14 0.068 $ 13,542,711.68
PUR Pursuit Minerals -6 -18 -57 136 0.033 $ 31,858,473.14
TMT Technology Metals -6 -18 2 -10 0.33 $ 69,244,872.60
HAS Hastings Tech Met -6 -13 48 69 0.245 $ 425,921,702.36
PEK Peak Resources -6 -18 -35 35 0.065 $ 131,199,252.43
JRL Jindalee Resources -6 -19 -15 193 2.37 $ 123,898,082.14
FGR First Graphene Ltd -6 -1 -19 -19 0.1975 $ 110,024,197.20
GW1 Greenwing Resources -6 28 53 130 0.46 $ 51,322,137.90
LOT Lotus Resources Ltd -6 -9 69 218 0.305 $ 296,006,799.28
MRD Mount Ridley Mines -6 -6 25 200 0.0075 $ 42,311,506.41
VML Vital Metals Limited -7 -7 -2 56 0.056 $ 233,267,052.70
STK Strickland Metals -7 -22 180 -18 0.07 $ 92,615,269.28
CHN Chalice Mining Ltd -7 34 7 144 9.415 $ 3,365,262,710.00
BKT Black Rock Mining -7 -5 21 130 0.2 $ 171,057,990.60
RLC Reedy Lagoon Corp. -7 18 74 208 0.04 $ 22,141,072.81
CXO Core Lithium -7 -8 121 830 0.53 $ 900,612,686.34
TKL Traka Resources -7 -7 -32 -41 0.013 $ 8,087,402.62
ESS Essential Metals Ltd -7 -5 117 132 0.195 $ 45,892,595.06
PRL Province Resources -7 -2 2 1272 0.1575 $ 175,097,270.71
ESR Estrella Res Ltd -7 -13 -48 -70 0.0315 $ 37,665,399.68
AML Aeon Metals Ltd. -7 -21 -50 -67 0.0435 $ 38,790,811.85
VMC Venus Metals Cor Ltd -8 0 -3 -18 0.18 $ 27,194,162.94
WKT Walkabout Resources -8 -8 0 29 0.18 $ 81,417,340.23
ALY Alchemy Resource Ltd -8 -8 -28 -35 0.012 $ 12,380,483.57
LIT Lithium Australia NL -8 -14 4 107 0.12 $ 127,888,665.38
SGQ St George Min Ltd -8 -15 -28 -55 0.058 $ 34,173,074.35
AZS Azure Minerals -8 -24 28 -59 0.34 $ 109,956,180.96
RNU Renascor Res Ltd -8 -24 59 817 0.11 $ 207,748,877.60
FRS Forrestaniaresources -8 -11 0.33 $ 9,537,000.00
FFX Firefinch Ltd -8 6 63 348 0.65 $ 662,339,191.86
LPD Lepidico Ltd -9 39 258 438 0.043 $ 273,642,983.99
CAE Cannindah Resources -9 -28 264 668 0.215 $ 109,981,345.11
AUZ Australian Mines Ltd -9 -19 17 53 0.021 $ 94,678,300.51
HXG Hexagon Energy -9 -7 -11 38 0.083 $ 38,357,189.12
JRV Jervois Global Ltd -9 -13 12 98 0.515 $ 804,437,106.86
AZL Arizona Lithium Ltd -9 10 245 900 0.1 $ 184,628,351.07
BOA Boadicea Resources -10 -3 -37 -13 0.19 $ 15,539,979.00
GAL Galileo Mining Ltd -10 -4 -25 5 0.23 $ 38,734,117.15
HYM Hyperion Metals Ltd -10 -13 -26 237 0.86 $ 123,447,314.54
IPT Impact Minerals -10 -4 -16 -39 0.0135 $ 28,333,128.87
VR8 Vanadium Resources -10 -10 37 209 0.071 $ 34,537,203.30
CLA Celsius Resource Ltd -10 -10 -37 -33 0.026 $ 27,227,930.11
PAN Panoramic Resources -10 -12 34 59 0.215 $ 461,455,650.90
PVW PVW Res Ltd -10 -17 231 187 0.43 $ 31,865,062.50
NTU Northern Min Ltd -11 13 85 85 0.063 $ 320,430,525.76
CWX Carawine Resources -11 -3 -24 -25 0.195 $ 27,902,985.22
ASN Anson Resources Ltd -12 37 145 314 0.1325 $ 127,674,910.00
IXR Ionic Rare Earths -12 7 45 221 0.045 $ 149,265,578.62
NKL Nickelxltd -12 -19 -29 0.11 $ 6,088,500.00
ADD Adavale Resource Ltd -13 -26 -53 -18 0.042 $ 16,497,900.47
EUR European Lithium Ltd -13 -13 114 161 0.1175 $ 124,254,635.12
AOU Auroch Minerals Ltd -14 -34 -32 -19 0.125 $ 42,254,469.12
MAN Mandrake Res Ltd -14 -18 -71 -47 0.05 $ 25,465,205.21
ARR American Rare Earths -14 -23 78 55 0.155 $ 59,409,237.68
SYA Sayona Mining Ltd -15 -26 328 1418 0.1325 $ 986,300,064.96
ARU Arafura Resource Ltd -16 -19 19 81 0.19 $ 302,331,379.74
BMM Balkanminingandmin -16 -32 0.45 $ 15,065,000.00
MLS Metals Australia -17 25 25 25 0.0025 $ 10,477,114.72
SBR Sabre Resources -17 -9 0 -55 0.005 $ 9,291,225.07
INF Infinity Lithium -17 -10 127 25 0.175 $ 72,465,654.80
A8G Australasian Gold -17 -32 186 0.5 $ 19,193,542.06
QEM QEM Limited -17 -1 7 92 0.1825 $ 21,550,433.27
HNR Hannans Ltd -18 -3 507 420 0.036 $ 91,219,501.66
BRB Breaker Res NL -19 -1 78 89 0.33 $ 112,415,120.51
QXR Qx Resources Limited -19 -15 29 38 0.022 $ 15,602,333.38
PNN PepinNini Minerals -22 -8 80 185 0.485 $ 26,176,033.05
AXE Archer Materials -22 -23 55 133 1.21 $ 298,197,984.44
RMX Red Mount Min Ltd -23 11 11 -9 0.01 $ 14,644,583.02
BUX Buxton Resources Ltd -24 -15 -27 25 0.08 $ 11,972,878.02
NVADB Nova Minerals Ltd -25 -18 -12 -32 1.23 $ 241,655,070.60

 

ECOGRAF (ASX:EGR)

The popular graphite/battery anode stock is in offtake discussions with Korean battery behemoth POSCO.

Under the agreement, EGR would supply POSCO with its environmentally friendly battery anode material products from the company’s new Australian Battery Anode Material Facility and its planned facility in Europe.

“EcoGraf and POSCO intend to enter into a formal offtake agreement for the proposed arrangements, containing terms and conditions customary for such contracts and they will also evaluate other opportunities for co-operation on product development, battery anode recycling and the development of EcoGraf’s battery anode material business,” EGR says.

EGR plans to fund the initial 5,000tpa phase ($US22.8m capex) of the Aussie development using cash reserves from a $54.6 million institutional placement completed in February 2021.

A 15,000tpa expansion phase ($US50m capex) will be financed through a combination of debt and equity.

 

PROSPECT RESOURCES (ASX:PSC)

SC’s flagship project is the advanced 72.7 million tonne hard rock ‘Arcadia’ asset, located on the outskirts of Harare in Zimbabwe.

The near-term developer was on the lookout for a partner to develop and fund the project after “multiple enquiries” from “a range of international parties”.

Last week it said that within a seven-day period it had received seven non-binding proposals for the advancement of Arcadia from a range of international parties, “encompassing structures including development joint venture, offtake prepayment debt funding and outright acquisition of Prospect’s interest in Arcadia”.

“Prospect, in conjunction with its financial advisers, Azure Capital and Vermilion Partners, is currently assessing the non-binding proposals to determine the preferred path forward,” it says.