Beside nickel – which is up more than 20 per cent over 2019 – battery metals like lithium, cobalt and graphite have struggled for traction this year.

Globally, producers have seen billions of dollars collectively wiped from their market caps.

Countless explorers have put battery metals projects on ice and moved on to more palatable commodities, like gold.

Year to date, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence’s lithium, graphite and cobalt price indexes are down 12.4 per cent, 19 per cent and ~38 per cent, respectively.

Vanadium has also well and truly fallen from those lofty +$US35/lb highs from late 2018, last fetching around $US6.8/lb on the Chinese spot market.

But despite the short-term negative outlook for most battery metals going into 2020 (emphasis on short term) there’s still a number of quality small cap players who are successfully swimming against the tide.

READ: Patience … lithium prices could be in the toilet for a while

Here are some highlights for 2019.

 

Liontown Resources (ASX:LTR) +239%

Liontown wants to spearhead the next generation of Australian hard rock lithium producers, timing development to benefit from the next tsunami of lithium demand.

Liontown has pencilled in first production for 2024, about the time lithium demand is expected to climb strongly out of its current malaise.

READ: In 2023, there’s only enough battery grade lithium for VW and Tesla

There’s still a lot of work to do, but the numbers from an early December pre-feasibility study (PFS) looked solid.

Liontown says that it expects to improve on these economics even further as part of an upcoming definitive feasibility study (DFS).

 

Archer Materials (ASX:AXE) +111%

The Archer chart was looking pretty healthy even before the ‘quantum computing/health tech/lithium-ion battery’ play found space in its jam-packed portfolio for a new halloysite-kaolin clay project in September.

Halloysite-kaolin is an aluminous clay used to create high purity alumina (HPA) — among many other things — which is in demand because it helps stop lithium-ion batteries from catching fire.

But that’s probably not Archer’s main game right now.

Over the next 12 months the company aims to accelerate the quantum computing stuff toward commercialisation; patent and develop its graphene biosensors; and progress its Campoona graphite project in South Australia towards development.

 

Walkabout Resources (ASX:WKT) +102%

Like Liontown, Walkabout has battled weak market sentiment as it progresses the high-grade, high-margin Lindi Jumbo graphite project in Tanzania towards production.

Walkabout has been busy over the past 12 months, signing two binding offtake term sheets and an additional sales, purchase and marketing agreement covering all annual production.

It has also kicked off procurement and manufacture of long lead equipment and started the on-site earth works.

In 2020, the plan is to lock down financing for project development — estimated at a very manageable $US27.6m.

 

Black Rock Mining (ASX:BKT) +49%

Another Tanzanian graphite play on a very similar path to production – although start up capex for phase 1 is higher at $US116m.

By January this year, Black Rock had secured offtake deals with three customers, representing 85 per cent of proposed steady state annual production of 240,000 tonnes.

Like Walkabout, it’s all about raising development capital in 2020.

Black Rock says a “financing round” will commence in the coming months.

“A number of options are being evaluated including project level equity, conventional African-domiciled debt financing, convertible/hybrid structures and offtake-related financing proposals,” the company says in its September quarterly.

 

Here’s a table of ASX battery metal stocks with exposure to lithium, cobalt, graphite, manganese and vanadium>>>

Scroll or swipe to reveal table. Click headings to sort. Best viewed on a laptop:

Ticker Name Share Price [Mon Dec 23 intraday] 1 Year Total Return % 1 Week Total Return % Market Cap
SEI SPECIALITY METALS INTERNATIONAL 0.053 344 -2 $ 53,067,400.00
LTR LIONTOWN RESOURCES 0.083 239 -2 $ 140,600,768.00
MEI METEORIC RESOURCES 0.03 200 -36 $ 34,772,076.00
CAZ CAZALY RESOURCES 0.022 123 5 $ 7,268,378.50
AXE ARCHER MATERIALS 0.15 111 30 $ 31,862,936.00
WKT WALKABOUT RESOURCES 0.185 102 -12 $ 71,966,456.00
NVA NOVA MINERALS 0.039 95 5 $ 35,417,296.00
CHN CHALICE GOLD MINES 0.205 75 11 $ 60,294,988.00
AZI ALTA ZINC 0.009 65 13 $ 17,617,190.00
VML VITAL METALS 0.012 63 18 $ 29,996,558.00
SO4 SALT LAKE POTASH 0.76 58 3 $ 214,312,304.00
KTA KRAKATOA RESOURCES 0.042 52 3 $ 7,000,000.00
DEV DEVEX RESOURCES 0.069 50 -7 $ 13,135,052.00
BKT BLACK ROCK MINING 0.051 49 11 $ 32,705,072.00
JMS JUPITER MINES 0.285 45 12 $ 568,107,392.00
MZZ MATADOR MINING 0.24 41 2 $ 23,738,114.00
HIP HIPO RESOURCES 0.019 36 6 $ 7,343,698.50
BSX BLACKSTONE MINERALS 0.135 35 4 $ 23,966,434.00
MTH MITHRIL RESOURCES 0.009 33 0 $ 4,413,503.00
SVM SOVEREIGN METALS 0.092 31 -3 $ 34,142,872.00
MTC METALSTECH 0.036 30 15 $ 4,561,201.50
ARL ARDEA RESOURCES 0.555 29 -6 $ 65,688,244.00
BOA BOADICEA RESOURCES 0.23 28 15 $ 12,787,022.00
FEL FE 0.013 27 0 $ 6,841,822.50
PM1 PURE MINERALS 0.016 23 -6 $ 7,672,668.50
VMC VENUS METALS 0.175 22 -5 $ 27,194,162.00
KSN KINGSTON RESOURCES 0.175 21 29 $ 30,020,694.00
MIN MINERAL RESOURCES 16.725 20 -1 $ 3,130,896,128.00
JRL JINDALEE RESOURCES 0.28 16 2 $ 10,970,862.00
PLL PIEDMONT LITHIUM 0.115 16 0 $ 89,691,840.00
INR IONEER 0.185 15 0 $ 327,333,472.00
MQR MARQUEE RESOURCES 0.058 14 0 $ 3,689,386.00
TLG TALGA RESOURCES 0.435 12 -3 $ 107,205,616.00
LPD LEPIDICO 0.016 8 -6 $ 70,458,696.00
4CE FORCE COMMODITIES 0.015 7 15 $ 6,134,202.50
INF INFINITY LITHIUM 0.064 7 5 $ 13,542,379.00
NZC NZURI COPPER 0.275 6 -2 $ 81,374,008.00
NWC NEW WORLD RESOURCES 0.016 5 0 $ 13,970,999.00
POS POSEIDON NICKEL 0.044 5 -2 $ 118,921,584.00
LPI LITHIUM POWER INTERNATIONAL 0.22 4 -2 $ 61,690,768.00
PAN PANORAMIC RESOURCES 0.395 4 15 $ 245,961,792.00
EMH EUROPEAN METALS 0.29 4 5 $ 43,734,580.00
RMX RED MOUNTAIN MINING 0.006 0 20 $ 5,268,220.50
BDI BLINA MINERALS 0.001 0 0 $ 5,454,882.50
SRK STRIKE RESOURCES 0.047 0 -2 $ 7,855,310.50
NMT NEOMETALS 0.19 -1 -1 $ 103,443,264.00
E25 ELEMENT 25 0.16 -6 0 $ 15,185,325.00
LCD LATITUDE CONSOLIDATED 0.014 -7 -13 $ 3,852,506.00
ORE OROCOBRE 2.64 -9 1 $ 717,361,856.00
TON TRITON MINERALS 0.037 -10 -5 $ 41,974,844.00
HNR HANNANS 0.009 -10 0 $ 17,891,590.00
JRV JERVOIS MINING 0.2 -12 6 $ 115,493,880.00
SI6 SIX SIGMA METALS 0.0035 -13 -13 $ 1,935,009.50
PIO PIONEER RESOURCES 0.012 -14 0 $ 18,105,106.00
CHK COHIBA MINERALS 0.011 -15 0 $ 7,310,756.50
DTM DART MINING 0.1 -17 0 $ 5,351,910.50
GBE GLOBE METALS AND MINING 0.015 -17 -12 $ 7,454,758.00
FGR FIRST GRAPHENE 0.125 -19 -7 $ 64,087,212.00
EUR EUROPEAN LITHIUM 0.075 -20 -6 $ 48,299,496.00
TNG TNG 0.09 -21 -8 $ 101,209,064.00
GPX GRAPHEX MINING 0.145 -24 0 $ 14,638,868.00
PSC PROSPECT RESOURCES 0.16 -24 7 $ 37,752,280.00
GLN GALAN LITHIUM 0.14 -24 -7 $ 21,316,690.00
MTB MOUNT BURGESS MINING 0.003 -25 0 $ 1,596,388.13
RNU RENASCOR RESOURCES 0.011 -27 0 $ 15,272,365.00
BAR BARRA RESOURCES 0.022 -27 0 $ 13,719,862.00
LML LINCOLN MINERALS 0.005 -29 0 $ 2,874,918.50
CRL COMET RESOURCES 0.019 -30 -17 $ 5,920,000.00
ZNC ZENITH MINERALS 0.054 -30 6 $ 13,141,442.00
EGR ECOGRAF 0.094 -30 25 $ 28,925,092.00
HRZ HORIZON MINERALS 0.087 -30 -1 $ 37,233,844.00
COB COBALT BLUE 0.13 -31 0 $ 19,487,328.00
CXO CORE LITHIUM 0.035 -31 -3 $ 29,292,248.00
AYR ALLOY RESOURCES 0.002 -33 33 $ 4,177,354.75
HAV HAVILAH RESOURCES 0.1 -33 9 $ 23,966,904.00
ADV ARDIDEN 0.003 -33 0 $ 5,071,560.50
PSM PENINSULA MINES 0.002 -33 -33 $ 2,338,804.25
LIT LITHIUM AUSTRALIA 0.065 -33 11 $ 32,849,538.00
GME GME RESOURCES 0.05 -34 -4 $ 25,312,146.00
AVZ AVZ MINERALS 0.044 -34 -2 $ 103,686,680.00
CUL CULLEN RESOURCES 0.013 -35 8 $ 2,463,042.75
GED GOLDEN DEEPS 0.024 -35 0 $ 6,734,605.50
RML RESOLUTION MINERALS 0.049 -36 -2 $ 5,579,480.50
AGY ARGOSY MINERALS 0.077 -37 -4 $ 81,400,168.00
AML AEON METALS 0.16 -38 55 $ 114,591,856.00
DHR DARK HORSE RESOURCES 0.003 -40 0 $ 7,103,779.00
SUH SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE MINING 0.027 -40 0 $ 2,485,875.75
IEC INTRA ENERGY 0.006 -40 0 $ 2,326,344.25
CZN CORAZON MINING 0.003 -40 0 $ 6,115,082.00
CLQ CLEAN TEQ 0.23 -40 12 $ 179,150,448.00
DGR DGR GLOBAL 0.077 -41 1 $ 47,215,004.00
BUX BUXTON RESOURCES 0.077 -41 -3 $ 10,476,268.00
RIE RIEDEL RESOURCES 0.01 -41 0 $ 4,180,697.00
CZR COZIRON RESOURCES 0.007 -42 0 $ 14,581,359.00
BEM BLACKEARTH MINERALS 0.051 -42 -2 $ 5,796,431.50
BPL BROKEN HILL PROSPECTING 0.016 -42 -11 $ 2,989,501.25
HXG HEXAGON ENERGY MATERIALS 0.07 -44 15 $ 20,470,338.00
SYA SAYONA MINING 0.01 -44 0 $ 20,418,208.00
AMD ARROW MINERALS 0.007 -46 -13 $ 6,701,705.50
SVD SCANDIVANADIUM 0.009 -47 29 $ 3,166,795.00
VRC VOLT RESOURCES 0.011 -47 10 $ 18,425,344.00
PNN PEPINNINI LITHIUM 0.002 -48 0 $ 2,867,196.25
BYH BRYAH RESOURCES 0.042 -48 0 $ 4,539,323.00
MLM METALLICA MINERALS 0.013 -48 8 $ 4,212,616.50
IDA INDIANA RESOURCES 0.026 -48 4 $ 4,770,862.00
WCN WHITE CLIFF MINERALS 0.006 -49 0 $ 2,351,749.50
CNJ CONICO 0.009 -49 0 $ 3,459,584.00
MRR MINREX RESOURCES 0.01 -50 11 $ 958,777.25
RLC REEDY LAGOON CORP 0.003 -50 -25 $ 1,206,815.13
BSM BASS METALS 0.006 -54 0 $ 14,049,373.00
ASN ANSON RESOURCES 0.027 -54 0 $ 16,198,968.00
PLS PILBARA MINERALS 0.2575 -54 -2 $ 578,163,136.00
AVL AUSTRALIAN VANADIUM 0.009 -55 -10 $ 25,528,020.00
GXY GALAXY RESOURCES 0.87 -57 -6 $ 380,815,776.00
EUC EUROPEAN COBALT 0.017 -58 -11 $ 12,948,855.00
SRN SUREFIRE RESOURCES 0.0025 -58 25 $ 1,256,307.25
KAI KAIROS MINERALS 0.01 -58 -9 $ 10,196,730.00
MLL MALI LITHIUM 0.071 -58 -4 $ 21,579,672.00
OMH OM HOLDINGS 0.49 -59 -3 $ 373,004,800.00
TMT TECHNOLOGY METALS AUSTRALIA 0.12 -61 0 $ 10,506,500.00
KOR KORAB RESOURCES 0.009 -61 -36 $ 2,854,795.25
MLS METALS AUSTRALIA 0.0015 -63 0 $ 3,207,352.75
LI3 LITHIUM CONSOLIDATED 0.025 -63 -16 $ 4,524,402.00
AUZ AUSTRALIAN MINES 0.014 -64 -7 $ 48,226,396.00
AJM ALTURA MINING 0.0495 -64 -9 $ 126,380,456.00
LKE LAKE RESOURCES 0.024 -65 0 $ 12,708,770.00
HWK HAWKSTONE MINING 0.006 -67 0 $ 4,891,908.00
SBR SABRE RESOURCES 0.002 -67 -33 $ 1,687,434.00
VR8 VANADIUM RESOURCES 0.026 -68 0 $ 9,731,213.00
NXE NEW ENERGY MINERALS 0.013 -68 -7 $ 2,167,023.75
PGM PLATINA RESOURCES 0.016 -69 -19 $ 6,199,244.50
SYR SYRAH RESOURCES 0.41 -69 -9 $ 173,667,088.00
TKL TRAKA RESOURCES 0.007 -70 0 $ 2,803,240.75
MNS MAGNIS ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES L 0.084 -70 -15 $ 52,337,384.00
GNM GREAT NORTHERN MINERALS 0.01 -71 -9 $ 4,163,230.00
THR THOR MINING 0.008 -71 -11 $ 8,613,175.00
AEE AURA ENERGY 0.005 -72 0 $ 6,619,703.00
BAT BATTERY MINERALS 0.006 -74 -8 $ 7,908,549.50
TAR TARUGA MINERALS 0.011 -75 -15 $ 2,272,791.25
MCT METALICITY 0.004 -75 0 $ 2,892,839.75
CFE CAPE LAMBERT RESOURCES 0.004 -75 0 $ 4,417,896.00
POW PROTEAN ENERGY 0.005 -76 0 $ 1,557,186.25
WML WOOMERA MINING 0.015 -77 0 $ 2,746,145.50
ARE ARGONAUT RESOURCES 0.005 -77 25 $ 6,313,522.50
FFR FIREFLY RESOURCES 0.055 -78 10 $ 4,396,967.00
PUR PURSUIT MINERALS 0.006 -80 0 $ 2,311,538.50
CLA CELSIUS RESOURCES 0.012 -83 -21 $ 8,329,399.00
LRS LATIN RESOURCES 0.007 -88 2 $ 1,934,194.75
ANW AUS TIN MINING 0.0015 -92 -50 $ 3,911,327.75