Original article published by UK Investor Magazine.

Lithium prices are soaring and interest in lithium stocks is palpable as investors position for the electric vehicle revolution.

Demand for Electric Vehicles is expected to increase over the next decade with lithium entering a structural supply deficit and providing support for lithium prices.

Benchmark Minerals has recently predicted the world will need to increase lithium production twenty fold to meet demand in 2050. Benchmark also forecast 2.9 million tonnes LCE will be required by 2032. This compares to just 2.7 million tonnes total global lithium production between 2015 and 2022.

With such a potential shortfall in lithium supply over the coming decade, any lithium mining company successfully bringing their assets into production, establishing processing facilities or increasing production levels during this time frame will be in a strong position to deliver value to their shareholders.

The UK Investor Magazine team has handpicked 20 lithium shares for investors to watch as the lithium story plays out in 2023. We cover companies producing – and exploring for – lithium encountered in brine, clay and hard rock geologies.

Our selection is grouped by the country of equity listing, as opposed to operations, and is by no means exhaustive.

Australian Lithium Stocks

Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS)

Pilbara Minerals owns 100% of the worlds largest independent hard-rock operation, the Pilgangoora Project in Western Australia. The rising lithium price and increase in production is evident in Pilbara’s latest quarterly results which saw their cash balance surging A$783.7M over the period. Pilbara achieved sales of 138,249 dry metric tonnes of spodumene concentrate in the Q1 2023 period, up from 58,383 in Q2 2022. Pilbara Minerals are also investing heavily in downstream operations in South Korea where there is a burgeoning lithium chemical and car manufacturing industry.

Lake Resources (ASX:LKE)

Lake Resource’s flagship project is the Kachi 4.4Mt lithium project in Argentina. Kachi will utilise direct lithium extraction in highly sustainable, low cost lithium production. A 2020 pre-feasibility projected 25,500 tonnes of battery grade lithium carbonate with a potential EBITDA margin of 62%. Lake Resources has four other projects in Argentina, three of which are brine and one pegmatite.

Core Lithium (ASX:CXO)

ASX-listed Core Lithium owns 100% of the Finniss Lithium Project in close proximity to the Darwin Port in Australia. Finniss has a JORC 2012 compliant Mineral Resources of 15Mt at 1.3% lithium oxide. Core Lithium began production in late 2022 with the sale of 15,000 dry metric tonnes (dmt) of spodumene direct shipping ore (DSO) at a rate of US$951/dmt.

Their flagship Finniss project is situated in the highly prospective Bynoe Pegmatite Field which also holds gold mineralisation. Core

Core Lithium has number of other lithium projects, as well as base metals and uranium projects across Australia.

Sayona Mining (ASX:SYA)

Sayona’s flagship North American Lithium (NAL) lithium asset is located in Canada nestled among their hub of lithium operations that include the Authier and Moblan projects.

The North American Lithium project has proven and probable mineral reserves of 29mt and has an NPV of $1 billion. The NAL project is a partnership with Piedmont which is expected incur low CAPEX costs to recommence spodumene mining in Q1 2023 with plans to establish a lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate processing plant in the vicinity.

Sayona’s NAL processing plant

European Lithium (ASX:EUR)

This ASX-listed lithium explorer is focused on Europe and their flagship Wolfsberg project in Austria. European Lithium are positioning themselves in the heart of the European EV region and have signed a binding offtake agreement with BMW. BMW will prepay for $15m lithium hydroxide and production is expected to begin in 2026.

European Lithium are currently undergoing a DFS at the Wolfsberg project which is thought to hold a 11mt lithium resource at 1% Li2O.

London Lithium Shares

Rio Tinto (LON:RIO)

London is home to some of the world’s largest miners by market cap. However, the FTSE 100’s miner are typically diversified behemoths that don’t provide the pure play attributes of Australian or US lithium miners. That said, Rio Tinto secures a spot in this selection due to its recent acquisition of an Argentinian lithium mine, and reports by Bloomberg suggest Rio is on the hunt for additional lithium assets after requesting information on potential lithium opportunities from investment banks.

CleanTech Lithium (LON:CTL)

CleanTech Lithium is targeting sustainable DLE extraction across three brine projects in Chile. The company is currently trialing their extraction techniques in pilot projects before rolling out larger scale testing of lithium brines. The company successfully raised capital to fulfil the evaluation of their Chilean projects in late 2022.

A scoping study at their Laguna Verde project is underway and results are expected in the near-term before embarking on a PFS. The Laguna Verde and Francisco Basin projects have a combined resource in excess of 2mt.

Laguna Verde, Chile

Power Metal Resources (LON:POW)

Power Metal Resources is a diversified junior explorer with a broad portfolio of mining assets including Canadian and Australian lithium projects.

Power Metal Resources‘ CEO Paul Johnson has guided the company through successful IPOs and value creating disposals of subsidiaries, and has recent overseen the acquisition of a Canadian lithium project to bolster their exposure to battery metals.

Power Metal’s subsidiary First Development Resources holds the license to the Selta project in the Northern Territory, Australia and is set to IPO in the coming months.

Premier African Minerals (LON:PREM)

Premier African Minerals has encountered spodumene within the main pegmatite ore body at their Zulu project in Zimbabwe. The project consists of 14 mineral claims across 3.5 km2. Premier African Minerals have recently unveiled assay results that support earlier evaluations of spodumene at the project.

Suzhou TA&A Ultra Clean Technology are helping support studies and future construction develop at the Zulu Project by providing Premier African Minerals with equity funding.

Trident Royalties (LON:TRR)

Trident Royalties is an AIM-listed mining royalties investment company with a diversified portfolio, including lithium royalties. The company has secured a royalties on the Thacker Pass and Sonora lithium projects. The Thacker Pass project is operated by Lithium Americas, a US-listed stock included in this selection. Sonora is a 8.8 Mt resource project operated by Bacanora Lithium, previously listed in London before a being acquire by Gangfeng.

Trident benefits from the upside in metals prices and increased expansion at mines, without the need for additional capacity expenditure by Trident themselves.

Cadence Minerals (LON:KDNC)

Cadence Minerals is a diversified mining investment company with a portfolio of private and listed investments spanning a range of metals.

Cadence Minerals has a stake in three lithium assets including a 8.1% interest in AIM-listed European Metals Holdings, holdings in privately-held Evergreen Lithium, and interest in a Mexican lithium asset.

In addition to Cadence’s lithium assets, investors will be closely watching progress at the company’s flagship iron ore project in Brazil.

European Metals Holdings (LON:EMH)

European Metals Holdings operates the Cinovec mine in Czech Republic which hold Europe’s largest lithium resource. The Cinovec mine has a total JORC Resource of 7.39 Mt LCE 0.64 Mt LCE measured, 3.88 Mt LCE indicated, 2.87 Mt LCE inferred.

A 2022 pre-feasibility study gave the project a $1.94 billion NPV at an assumed lithium hydroxide price of $17,000 per tonne.

European Metals Holdings’ Cinovec mine is favourably located near the German border and is in close proximity to a region that has the potential to be a powerhouse for electric vehicle and battery storage manufacturing.

US Lithium Stocks

Albemarle Corporation (NYSE:ALB)

Ablemarle is one of the world’s largest lithium producers and expects adjusted EBITDA of their lithium business to surge 500-550% in the 2022 FY. Ablemarle are a vertically integrated lithium giant with global operations in key geographies including China, Chile, Australia and the US.

Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (NYSE:SQM)

Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (SQM) is a Chile focused miner operating in the Salar de Atacama. The Salar de Atacama is located in the Lithium Triangle and one of the world’s foremost geographies for lithium brine production. SQM has forecast 145,000 tons production in 2022 which is facilitated almost entirely by solar power.

Piedmont Lithium (NASDAQ:PLL)

Piedmont Lithium is dual listed on the NASDAQ and ASX and is targeting the development of assets in Carolina Tin Spodumene Belt of North Carolina and low-cost lithium hydroxide production. Piedmont is engaged in Canadian assets through a partnership with Sayona Mining discussed else where in this article.

Piedmont has an equity interest in London-listed Atlantic Lithium concerning the Ewoyaa Lithium Project in Ghana. Piedmont have the ability to gain a 50% interest in Atlantic’s Ghana assets. Piedmont has $117m cash as of end September 2022.

Piedmont recently received a $141m grant from the US government to advance development of the Tennessee lithium hydroxide processing plant. Piedmont say they will invest $600m in the project.

Livent Corporation (NYSE: LTHM)

Livent has deep roots in the lithium industry having started life as lithium hydroxide producer in the 1940s. It has since created a lithium and speciality products empire that is now targeting the rapid expansion of the EV industry. Livent Corporation is a predominately brine focused producer with assets in Argentina, although they are developing a hard-rock asset in Canada.

Livent Corporation Bessemer City Lithium Hydroxide Facility

Having listed in 2018, Livent Corporation has forecasted it will generate between $815m – $845m revenue and $350-375m EBITDA in their 2022 FY. The company has a suite of IP collectively known as LIOVIX that helps improve battery performance and manages their lithium supply chain.

Lithium Americas (NYSE:LAC)

Lithium America’s is developing projects in Argentina and the US targeting production in the near term. The Argentinian brine assets are thought to hold in the region of 8mt lithium resources while resources estimates are currently being prepared for the Thacker Pass open-pit project. The company has successfully raised over $1bn finance to fund development of the projects.

Lithium Americas operations

Canadian Lithium Stocks

Lithium Chile (TSX-V:LITH) 

Winner of the Mines and Money ‘Best Lithium Company of the Year’, Lithium Chile has 12 brine projects in Chile and Argentina. The licenses cover 79,900 hectares in Chile and 23,300 hectares in Argentina. Recent evaluations of their Laguna Blanco brine assets showed near-surface samples assaying up to 1410 mg/l lithium. Lithium Chile did receive significant backing from Chinese investors who were later ordered to divest their holdings by Canadian authorities.

Sigma Lithium Resources (TSX-V:SGML)

Sigma Lithium owns and operates the largest hard-rock asset in the Americas, Grota do Cirilo. The company is working towards two phase production at the project which could see production up to 104,200 tonnes LCE production per annum. Analysts at Cannacord Genuity see Sigma becoming one of the world’s largest lithium producers should all planned expansions be delivered.

Sigma Lithium say they are planning to achieve net-zero targets by 2024 through the use of carbon credits.

Standard Lithium (TSX-V:SLI)

Standard Lithium is developing the “LiSTR” Direct Lithium Extraction technology to help unlock value in brine assets in South Arkansas. The 4.3mt LCE Smackover project is targeting brines held in limestone aquifers that have already been pumped for the extraction of other critical minerals.

Standard Lithium is well placed to harness existing infrastructure used for bromine processing to achieve a forecasted 20,900 tonnes of annual production.