Brisbane Mining Investor Conference: Battery metals exploration powers on as access to capital keeps drill rigs turning

The number of companies exploring for battery and ‘green metals’ has continued to surge over the past year while exploration interest in mainstays such as iron ore and gold has waned.

Speaking at the Brisbane Mining Investor Conference yesterday (22 March), Austex Resource Opportunities Principal Consultant Rob Murdoch says capital raisings for miners on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) have also been ‘tremendous’ in recent times.

Addressing the conference, Murdoch explains that junior exploration companies raised more than $3 billion in Q4 2021 alone. While that has fluctuated somewhat since, essentially peaking in Q2 2022 at $2.3 billion, the amount being raised is still ”a long way from where we were traditionally”.

“So the ability to raise money on the ASX for good projects at the right time has been tremendous, been very robust”

“So the ability to raise money on the ASX for good projects at the right time has been tremendous, been very robust. We’ve been out there, we’ve been exploring, the drills have been turning. I’m hoping that that will stay up. It’ll probably come down a reasonable amount, but let’s hope that we can turn it around.”

Over the past 12 months there has been a 240% increase in miners exploring for lithium, a 140% rise in those seeking rare earths, a 45% jump in uranium exploration, and a 33% increase in companies exploring for vanadium.

“And the commodities that have gone backwards as far as exploration interest has been iron ore down 51%, bauxite down 50%, and gold down 22%. Companies are sitting out there with a lot of money, lithium companies, rare earth companies that have done very well in raising capital. And the other commodities pretty much have raised what they’ve spent as an investment group.”

Murdoch says, interestingly, over the past 3 months despite the growing interest in green and battery metals, many companies exposed to such commodities have not enjoyed higher valuations.

“The green shoots over the past 3 months in commodity prices – gold, iron ore, manganese, the stocks are all lower, despite the buzz around battery stocks and all how we’re all transitioning to whatever we’re transitioning to.”

He says during the period, lithium stocks were down 8.5%, while tin stocks plummeted 8.2%, with vanadium down 7.8%. Stocks exposed to rare earths, copper, nickel, and lead were also down.

However, iron ore prices have soared 25.7%, Australian gold has been up 9.2%, with copper rising 4%, and magnesium oxide prices up 2.4%.

“The only bright spot for investors in the different commodities has been tungsten, which is up for 4.5%. Energy stocks such as oil and gas, and coal have lost the gloss and the fuels of the future such as hydrogen, helium, and uranium are still to perform.”

Write to Adam Orlando at Mining.com.au

Author Image
Written By Adam Orlando
Mining.com.au Editor-in-Chief Adam Orlando has more than 20 years’ experience in the media having held senior roles at various publications, including as Asia-Pacific Sector Head (Mining) at global newswire Acuris (formerly Mergermarket). Orlando has worked in newsrooms around the world including Hong Kong, Singapore, London, and Sydney.