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Why the Mining Sector Looks Poised for a Major Breakout

Energy
0 min read

The mining sector has experienced boom and bust cycles throughout history, but current trends suggest we may be entering a new era of growth and opportunity. With the world transitioning to clean energy and electric vehicles, demand is surging for key minerals like lithium, cobalt, nickel and copper. This creates an attractive investment case for the mining sector.

Historic Trends

Looking back, the mining industry has gone through periods of rapid expansion and painful contraction. During economic expansions and commodity bull markets, mining companies ramp up exploration, development and production to capitalize on high prices. This leads to oversupply and when demand eventually weakens, the cycle turns downward.

We saw this play out in dramatic fashion over the past decade. High prices in the 2000s encouraged massive investment in new mines and supply capacity. But when Chinese growth began to slow around 2012, demand weakened and prices collapsed. The mining sector was forced to drastically cut back on production and capital investment.

Many mining companies barely stayed afloat during this bust period. But this reduction in supply helped set the stage for the next upcycle. Now, after years of underinvestment, mines are depleting reserves faster than they are being replenished. With commodity demand picking up again, conditions are ripe for the next mining boom.

Current Market Trends

Several key trends suggest we are now in the early stages of a new mining upcycle:

  • Electric vehicle revolution – EV adoption is accelerating around the world, dramatically increasing demand for lithium, cobalt, nickel, copper and other key minerals. Total EV sales increased 70% in 2021 and are projected to rise more than 5-fold by 2030. This will require a massive increase in mineral supply.
  • Renewable energy expansion – Solar, wind and other renewables are seeing surging growth as countries aim to cut carbon emissions. This further increases metals demand for batteries, transmission lines, wiring and other components.
  • Supply chain vulnerabilities – The pandemic and geopolitics have exposed risks of relying on a few key countries for critical mineral supply. Governments are now focused on developing domestic mining capacity to ensure supply security.
  • Decarbonization efforts – Reaching net zero emissions will require a staggering volume of minerals for clean energy infrastructure buildout. Models estimate needing 30 times more lithium and 15 times more cobalt by 2040.

These trends all point to a pending boom in mining investment and production. The demand outlook has fundamentally shifted in a more positive direction.

Take a moment to take a look at emerging growth natural resources, metals and mining companies by looking at Noble Capital Markets’ Senior Research Analyst Mark Reichman’s coverage list.

Investment Opportunities

For investors, this macro backdrop presents an opportunity to capitalize on the coming mining supercycle. Some ways to gain exposure include:

  • Lithium mining stocks – Lithium prices have skyrocketed 10-fold in the past two years as demand for electric vehicle batteries has soared. Leading lithium miners like Albemarle, SQM and Livent are seeing their earnings multiply. They are investing heavily to aggressively expand production capacity to ride the lithium boom. Their stocks still may have substantial upside given the tight supply and surging demand forecasts.
  • Nickel and cobalt miners – Clean energy technologies like batteries require vast amounts of nickel and cobalt. Both metals face looming supply deficits. Miners expanding production such as Glencore, Sherritt International and Giga Metals stand to benefit enormously from surging demand and higher prices over the coming decade. These miners offer some of the best leverage to capitalize on the EV battery revolution.
  • Copper miners – Copper is essential for global electrification and will be required by the millions of tons for EV charging networks, power grids, wiring and electronics. Leading copper miners like Freeport McMoRan, Southern Copper and First Quantum Minerals offer direct exposure to higher copper prices. Many are expanding production while also paying healthy dividends.
  • Diversified mining majors – Large diversified miners like BHP, Rio Tinto and Vale mine a broad mix of commodities from copper and iron ore to coal and potash. Their diversification provides stability while still benefiting from the overall minerals boom. These global giants pay some of the highest dividends in the market.
  • Junior mining stocks – Earlier stage mining companies developing new projects provide extreme upside potential leverage but also greater risk. Conduct thorough due diligence on management track record, finances, permitting status and feasibility studies before investing.
  • Physical gold and silver – Precious metals like gold and silver can provide a hedge against market volatility. Buying physical coins and bars or investing in ETFs offers exposure. Just a small allocation of 5-10% can help balance a portfolio.
  • Mining ETFs – Funds like the Global X Lithium ETF (LIT), VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX) and SPDR Metals & Mining ETF (XME) provide diversified exposure to mining stocks and commodities. This simplifies investing in the sector.

With mining poised to boom, investors have many options to position for the coming supercycle. As with any investment, proper due diligence and risk management remain critical. But the macro trends point to a bright future for mining stocks. For investors, now may be the ideal time to position for the coming mining supercycle.

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