Shares of Orocobre Limited (ASX: ORE.AX) (market cap US$273 million) jumped more than 9% today after the company announced that a definitive feasibility study (DFS) of the company’s Salar de Olaroz lithium-potash brine project in Argentina defined a resource base of 6.4 million tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent -- sufficient to sustain a mine producing 16,400 tonnes per year of battery grade lithium carbonate. The company’s website says initial commercial production at Olaroz is expected to begin in 2012.
A small handful of companies in the clean/efficient energy sector bucked Monday’s stock market downer by making strong gains. Two of these companies, lithium-ion battery maker A123 Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: AONE)) and wind turbine tower manufacturer Broadwind Energy Inc. (Nasdaq: BWEN), also halted months of sinking share prices.
U.S. stock markets stalled this week as investors worried about a potential federal government shutdown and world oil prices that crept up past $112 per barrel (April-dated light sweet crude futures). Overseas, markets were stronger, with the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong leading with a 5.34% gain for the week.
Most clean energy sectors underperformed the broad stock markets, with wind power and solar power technology companies falling the most. The EnergyBoom Wind Subindex (E•B Wind) fell 4.82%, while the Guggenheim Solar ETF (TAN) declined 3.03%.
EnergyBoom’s E•B Efficiency subindex gain of 3.1 percent last week was the best performance among the EnergyBoom clean sector indices. It also beat the leading green ETFs and all broad market indices.
The “Lithium Rush” is in full swing. Existing producers are expanding properties and junior mining companies are looking for news ones to meet the demand from the dozen automakers who are introducing new electric vehicles over the next two years. Some automakers are investing in mining projects to ensure their future lithium supplies.