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SA company shares winners and losers for 2021

Business

Emerging companies that specialise in future-facing resources such as graphite and lithium have dominated a listing of the fastest-growing South Australian share prices in 2021.

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A snapshot of about 65 SA-headquartered listed companies from January 1 to December 20 last year found that investors in fledgling graphite company Renascor Resources to be smiling the widest.

The company, which is aiming to develop a graphite mine on Eyre Peninsula, has increased its share price from just $0.01 in January to $0.11 last month, growing its market cap to $217 million.

Its price has spiked further in recent weeks and will open at $0.17 this morning.

The $210 million Siviour project would become the first integrated graphite mine and battery anode material operation outside of China and was granted Major Project Status by the federal government in September.

The Siviour mine site near Arno Bay is the second-largest reported proven graphite reserve in the world and the largest reserve outside of Africa.

The project also includes two processing facilities in South Australia – one at the mine site to create a 95 per cent graphite product while a second, more technical site would create a purified spherical graphite product to a purity of at least 99.95 per cent.

A final investment decision on the project is expected next year and if it goes ahead would create about 100 construction jobs and up to 200 ongoing positions.

Renascor is aiming to become a supplier of purified spherical graphite to the global electric car industry, striking a non-binding deal with a major Korean lithium-ion battery materials purchaser in August.

On the rise…

Fellow SA miner Core Lithium enjoyed a 250 per cent spike in its share price last year after committing to building a lithium mine and processing plant in the Northern Territory after signing a contract with a key supplier to electric carmaker Tesla.

Its share price has risen even further over the festive period and opened at $0.62 today, up from $0.14 a year ago.

The company announced its final investment decision to the Australia Securities Exchange in September and started construction in October. It expects to start producing its first lithium concentrate before the end of next year.

The Finniss project is about 25km from the port of Darwin, is the first lithium mine in the Northern Territory and the first new significant lithium mine in more than a decade.

It was last year granted Federal Government major project status and has all necessary NT government approvals. The project is also fully funded following the raising of $116 million from institutional investors and shareholders earlier this year.

Core Lithium also jumped 70 places to No. 16 in InDaily’s 2021 South Australian Business Index and was awarded the Rising Star Award.

The emergence of electric cars and other future-facing technologies has driven huge interest in critical minerals and South Australian companies have not missed out.

Sparc Technologies, which develops innovative technologies using graphene – a derivative of graphite – was also a fast mover on the ASX, growing its share price an impressive 390 per cent from $0.31 to $1.52 during the year.

Other big improvers were phosphate miner Centrex, development stage iron ore concentrate company Magnetite Mines and Hillgrove Resources, which is looking to recommence copper mining at its Kanmantoo site in the Adelaide Hills.

On the slide...

Of the non-resource companies, telecommunications provider Uniti Group has also seen a surge in its share price last year after acquiring OptiComm and Telstra Velocity assets while business software company Prophecy International Holdings also had a strong 12 months following a bounce in sales to the US in the second half of the year.

The share prices of several of South Australia’s blue-chip companies also performed well in 2021.

These included copper miner Oz Minerals (up 42 per cent to $26.92), agribusiness Elders (up 21 per cent to $11.99) and listed investment company Argo Investments (up 20 per cent to $10.08).

Treasury Wine Estates, the producer of Penfolds and several other leading SA brands, grew its share price by 30 per cent for the year to $12.09 on December 20 despite the recent imposition of Chinese tariffs of more than 200 per cent that threatened to cripple the business.

Fellow listed wine company Australian Vintage Limited also had a strong year with its share price increasing 34 per cent to $0.78 from $0.58 on January 1 on the back of strong exports to the UK and a surge in sales of its non-alcohol wines.

However, the share price of the state’s largest company Santos only made a small amount of ground for the year, rising from $6.27 on January 1 to $6.31 on December 31.

The worst performing SA company was smart light manufacturer Buddy Technologies, which endured a debt refinancing, supply delays and the walkout of three non-executive directors in 2021.

While many resource companies had strong years, a number of SA-based junior explorers did not.

Copper and gold explorer Petratherm lost 71 per cent from its share price while fellow explorers Resolution Metals (down 60 per cent), Southern Gold (down 58 per cent) and Maximus Resources (down 53 per cent) all saw their share price more than halve during 2021.

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