High Voltage: US offers support to reduce China’s ‘weaponisation’ of battery metals
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Our High Voltage column wraps all the news driving ASX stocks with exposure to lithium, cobalt, graphite, nickel, rare earths, and vanadium.
US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm has told Aussie developers of battery metals projects they can win support from the US Government for their projects.
It’s all part of America’s plan to counter the dominance of China in refining and producing key materials like lithium, rare earths and cobalt.
Just yesterday, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the country wants to end its “undue dependence” on rare earths, solar panels and other key goods from China to prevent Beijing from cutting off supplies as it has done to other countries.
And President Joe Biden even invoked the 1950 Defense Production act earlier this year to encourage domestic production.
Granholm says the concern is that critical minerals could be weaponised.
“Our concern is that critical minerals could be vulnerable to manipulation, as we’ve seen in other areas, or weaponisation,” she said in a meeting in Sydney with companies including BHP Group (ASX:BHP), Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) and Lynas Corp (ASX:LYC).
“We are very serious about establishing strong relationships with Australia, and with you and with your potential customers for offtake.”
Developers of battery metals projects can win support from the US government as it seeks to counter the dominance of China in clean-technology supply chains, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm says https://t.co/DWriOINlGv
— Bloomberg (@business) July 13, 2022
Granholm also said that producers in Australia can access support through the Department of Energy’s loan programs office.
And some are already waaaaay ahead of the rest.
Graphite producer Syrah Resources (ASX:SYR) has facilities in Louisiana, and in April won a $107 million commitment from the loan programs office.
Plus, Lynas signed a contract with the US Department of Defense to establish a rare earths plant in Texas just last month.
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This ~$23.8m market cap company says it will regain full control of the Broken Hill Cobalt Project following notice from Perilya – wholly owned subsidiary of China’s Zhongjin Lingnan Mining – of its intention to withdraw from the Windy Ridge joint venture.
Perilya’s withdrawal will become effective upon fulfilling its rehabilitation obligations during the September quarter, meaning it will hold 100% of the project.
The Broken Hill Cobalt Project is prospective for the discovery of economic critical minerals such as cobalt with several priority targets already identified including the Railway Extension target, which lies directly along strike from Cobalt Blue Holdings’ (ASX:COB) Railway cobalt deposit.
RIM is currently pursuing regulatory approvals to enable commencement of exploration activities on the project.
Nickel explorer LM8 has hit more than 14% nickel in its ‘best hole’ to date at Baker Shoot, part of the Kambalda Nickel Project in Western Australia’s Goldfields region.
Two distinct but immediately adjacent nickel sulphide zones have been intersected with results returning 23m at 6.78% (>1% nickel cut-off) and 14m at 8.13% nickel and 7m at 5.92% nickel (2m <0.50% nickel in between).
Baker was discovered and progressed to a JORC mineral resource totalling 15,800t nickel metal at 2.8% nickel within nine months of discovery and inside 12 months of Lunnon Metals’ listing on the ASX.
LM8 listed on the bourse back in June 2021 after raising $15m at 30c a share to fund a major diamond and RC drilling initiative at its long-shut Foster and Jan nickel mines in Kambalda.
On its first day, the company climbed more than 50% in early trade, before retracting to 42.5 cents at close for a 42% gain.
LM8 managing director Ed Ainscough says this is another standout result for Baker – the run of five consecutive metres over 10% Ni really is the ‘cherry on top’.
“The fact that Baker has the ability to deliver these nickel grades over such impressive widths and all so close to surface, is exciting for the entire Lunnon Metals team and naturally, of course, for our shareholders.”
Lithium ASX player ASN has delivered additional high lithium and bromine results in drilling at the Paradox Lithium Project in Utah, USA.
These new results are from the Clastic Zones at Long Canyon No 2, where drilling highlights include 97ppm lithium, 882ppm bromine in Clastic Zone 33 and 240ppm lithium plus 4,115ppm bromine in Clastic Zone 31.
The assays from the Clastic Zones are not part of the existing Paradox resource estimate and will be included in the upcoming resource upgrade to be included in the definitive feasibility study (DFS) currently being completed.
Drilling has kicked off across GSM’s Yule Project in the Western Australia’s Pilbara region targeting lithium and gold targets.
The 1,500m 10-hole program will test a shallow sand-covered, complex greenstone-granitoid structural setting and coincident, elevated to anomalous LCT pathfinder and gold air-core (AC) intersections recorded in 2021 reconnaissance drilling.
GSM’s managing director Michael Moore says investors can look forward to targeted field exploration over the second half of 2022 as it progresses activity on a number of self-generated projects.