The hordes of small cap battery metal bandwagoners which dominated the bourse in 2018/19 has thinned dramatically.

COVID-19 certainly hasn’t helped in 2020, but it’s been enduring negative investor sentiment – caused by falling prices and softer than expected demand – which has prompted many of these explorers to move on to ‘palatable’ metals, like gold.

Or become listless shells, cursed to wander the bowels of the ASX until transformed by a ‘material acquisition’.

Scroll down for our list of battery metals winners and losers >>>

Right now, explorers are the lucky ones. Some of the big players all along the lithium-ion supply chain – like indebted Chinese lithium giant Tianqi –  are facing massive headwinds due to COVID-19 shutdowns.

The ultimate impacts of the ongoing pandemic remain a mystery. Still, analysts say that — irrespective of temporary recessions or market downturns — electrification of the global automotive sector remains “inevitable”.

READ: Have the next crop of battery metals producers been oversold?

On Tuesday, Goldman Sachs analyst Mark Delaney gave EV spearhead Tesla a $US864 ($1372) price target, compared to its latest price of $US723.

“We are positive on Tesla because we believe that the company has a significant product lead in EVs, which is a market where we expect long-term secular growth,” Delaney says.

Meanwhile, China — which is showing early signs of economic recovery — will extend EV subsidy programs to help support the beleaguered auto sector.

“Although the subsidy extension had been expected, we believe the official announcement amid a gloomy market will still trigger a positive stock reaction in the EV value chain, OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] in particular,” Morgan Stanley said in a research note.

“But the real impact on EV sales stays fluid, depending on more interacting forces beyond subsidies.”

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

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

CODE NAME PRICE [intraday Wednesday April 16] 6 Month Total Return. % 3 Month Total Return % 1 Month Total Return % MARKET CAP
TKL TRAKA RESOURCES 0.004 -64 -50 100 $ 1,601,851.88
CXO CORE LITHIUM 0.041 10 10 72 $ 34,078,552.00
COB COBALT BLUE HOLDINGS 0.145 4 4 45 $ 23,191,460.00
FGR FIRST GRAPHENE 0.14 -24 0 43 $ 66,509,812.00
PLS PILBARA MINERALS 0.22 -29 -38 41 $ 500,333,472.00
LIT LITHIUM AUSTRALIA 0.054 17 -24 35 $ 31,550,628.00
LPD LEPIDICO 0.012 -33 -25 33 $ 55,604,020.00
INR IONEER 0.125 -30 -41 32 $ 193,186,576.00
CLQ CLEAN TEQ 0.185 -31 -33 32 $ 138,095,136.00
BEM BLACKEARTH MINERALS 0.037 -26 -21 32 $ 4,205,254.50
ARL ARDEA RESOURCES 0.265 -31 -52 25 $ 32,257,620.00
BPL BROKEN HILL PROSPECTING 0.015 -29 -17 25 $ 3,816,477.75
PIO PIONEER RESOURCES 0.01 -29 -29 25 $ 15,087,588.00
CLA CELSIUS RESOURCES 0.01 -33 -33 25 $ 7,572,181.00
AJM ALTURA MINING 0.045 -28 -24 24 $ 122,296,264.00
VRC VOLT RESOURCES 0.006 -50 -54 20 $ 10,433,021.00
CNJ CONICO 0.006 -45 -25 20 $ 2,306,389.25
LKE LAKE RESOURCES 0.037 -5 -23 19 $ 24,844,092.00
EGR ECOGRAF 0.065 -15 -6 18 $ 20,309,108.00
TON TRITON MINERALS 0.023 -41 -36 15 $ 26,092,470.00
SYA SAYONA MINING 0.008 -11 -58 14 $ 17,690,388.00
RNU RENASCOR RESOURCES 0.008 -43 -33 14 $ 10,545,213.00
MIN MINERAL RESOURCES 16.37 29 -5 12 $ 3,085,246,976.00
AUZ AUSTRALIAN MINES 0.011 -59 -31 10 $ 37,892,168.00
NMT NEOMETALS 0.16 -10 -8 10 $ 84,400,120.00
BKT BLACK ROCK MINING 0.029 -54 -42 7 $ 18,239,368.00
GXY GALAXY RESOURCES 0.785 -15 -35 6 $ 323,488,672.00
LTR LIONTOWN RESOURCES 0.091 -9 -2 6 $ 154,152,656.00
ORE OROCOBRE 2.14 -8 -39 4 $ 576,350,656.00
AGY ARGOSY MINERALS 0.042 -42 -57 3 $ 40,780,084.00
EUR EUROPEAN LITHIUM 0.046 -44 -52 2 $ 29,204,984.00
JRL JINDALEE RESOURCES 0.32 45 3 2 $ 12,318,161.00
BAR BARRA RESOURCES 0.014 -30 -33 0 $ 8,351,220.50
RLC REEDY LAGOON CORP 0.002 -50 -33 0 $ 804,543.44
LML LINCOLN MINERALS 0.004 -33 -20 0 $ 2,299,934.75
CZN CORAZON MINING 0.002 -33 -50 0 $ 4,819,792.00
PUR PURSUIT MINERALS 0.004 -56 -20 0 $ 1,412,937.25
ADV ARDIDEN 0.004 -25 -25 0 $ 5,365,560.50
MLS METALS AUSTRALIA 0.001 -50 0 0 $ 3,207,352.75
WKT WALKABOUT RESOURCES 0.125 -54 -29 0 $ 43,641,704.00
LPI LITHIUM POWER INTERNATIONAL 0.17 -32 -35 0 $ 44,712,364.00
AVZ AVZ MINERALS 0.06 36 9 -2 $ 141,341,760.00
JRV JERVOIS MINING 0.165 -28 -21 -3 $ 105,869,392.00
PLL PIEDMONT LITHIUM 0.082 -20 -41 -5 $ 65,945,616.00
TMT TECHNOLOGY METALS AUSTRALIA 0.07 -58 -50 -5 $ 7,483,470.00
AXE ARCHER MATERIALS 0.165 22 -8 -6 $ 35,049,228.00
HIP HIPO RESOURCES 0.014 -7 -30 -7 $ 5,411,146.50
SYR SYRAH RESOURCES 0.23 -47 -64 -8 $ 99,494,304.00
VR8 VANADIUM RESOURCES 0.012 -73 -54 -8 $ 4,491,329.50
INF INFINITY LITHIUM 0.037 -46 -35 -10 $ 7,898,871.00
AVL AUSTRALIAN VANADIUM 0.008 -27 -38 -11 $ 20,490,582.00
TLG TALGA RESOURCES 0.285 -48 -34 -12 $ 69,440,000.00
EMH EUROPEAN METALS 0.18 -40 -50 -14 $ 19,347,890.00
MLL MALI LITHIUM 0.045 -55 -49 -15 $ 14,280,665.00
TNG TNG 0.055 -34 -38 -18 $ 61,849,980.00
MNS MAGNIS ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES 0.057 -64 -58 -19 $ 35,998,048.00
GLN GALAN LITHIUM 0.16 -16 -16 -20 $ 26,355,056.00
AML AEON METALS 0.056 -55 -72 -25 $ 36,588,764.00
BSM BASS METALS 0.003 -63 -57 -25 $ 8,429,624.00
PM1 PURE MINERALS 0.011 -35 -31 -27 $ 6,557,889.50
ASN ANSON RESOURCES 0.017 -56 -37 -32 $ 10,199,350.00
GED GOLDEN DEEPS 0.007 -71 -72 -36 $ 1,964,259.88
GME GME RESOURCES 0.038 -39 -28 -37 $ 19,237,230.00
AEE AURA ENERGY 0.003 -57 -50 -40 $ 5,417,895.00
PSC PROSPECT RESOURCES 0.09 -13 -38 -41 $ 23,331,216.00
SVD SCANDIVANADIUM 0.004 -56 -43 -43 $ 1,407,464.38
GPX GRAPHEX MINING 0.039 -79 -73 -60 $ 4,485,450.50
VUL VULCAN ENERGY RESOURCES 0.22 33 38 16 $11,810,000.00

Most of our notable winners over the past month are in the lithium space, once again.

Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS) +41%; Altura Mining (ASX:AJM) +24%; Galaxy Resources (ASX:GXY) +6%; and Orocobre (ASX:ORE) +3 % have bounced back over the past month.

However, these lithium producers are yet to make any big predictions around the impacts of COVID-19 on their businesses and the industry going forward. March-quarter results, due over the next few weeks, might shed a little more light on the matter.

Of the small caps, Core Lithium (ASX:CXO) jumped +72 per cent after locking in crucial Northern Territory government approvals for its advanced Finniss lithium project.

“With project approvals now in place and mine-life likely to double or even triple as we update our feasibility study by mid-2020, Core’s Finniss lithium project is positioned at the front of the line of new global lithium supply as EV manufacturing recovers post COVID-19,” managing director Stephen Biggins says.

Northern Territory Minister for Primary Industry and Resources Paul Kirby said the resources sector would play a huge role in recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

“The first three years of this project are expected to inject over half a billion dollars into the NT economy and create around 200 jobs for Territorians within an hour of Darwin,” he says.

Core has the ambitious target of completing offtake arrangements and having Finniss ‘construction-ready’ later in 2020, ahead of sourcing project debt and equity.