Rinehart invests in lithium as prices hike

Lithium producer Vulcan Energy Resources has secured commitments for $120 million in funding, with Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting becoming a significant investor in the company.

Vulcan will use the funding to drive its final investment decision at its Zero Carbon lithium project in Germany, with anticipation of becoming the world’s first producer of zero carbon lithium.

Vulcan managing director Francis Wedin said the company had received overwhelming support for the capital raising from both domestic and international institutional investors.

“This demonstrates clear support for our strategic plan to develop the world’s first zero carbon lithium project,” he said.

“Proceeds from the placement provide us with a runway to final investment decision and enables Vulcan to accelerate project development, including targeted delivery of a (definitive feasibility study) by (the second quarter of) 2022.”

Chinese lithium prices increased by over 40 per cent last month on the back of the continued surge of battery demand.

Benchmark Minerals Intelligence recorded a 41 per cent increase in battery grade lithium carbonate prices in China at $US9450 ($12,421) per tonne.

Benchmark lithium analyst George Miller said that lithium ion battery related policy incentives in China were geared towards subsidising shorter-range vehicles, public transport fleet electrification, 5G power stations, all of which encouraged lithium iron phosphate (LFP) consumption.

“It’s back to the future for lithium in China,” he said. “Demand for durable, improved, and low cost LFP cathode material has become rejuvenated in China – a very similar story to what we saw in lithium’s last price run of 2016 but with a much improved product for the 2020s.

“Although this surging price trend has largely been confined to lithium carbonate within China, this has had a knock-on effect elsewhere, drawing up lithium carbonate prices out of South America by 10 per cent, and 6 per cent for spodumene feedstock in Australia.”

Vulcan soared by 225 per cent over the past month to arrive at $9.35 this morning.

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