This lithium miner’s shares have soared 12,540% since January 2015

Source: Wikipedia

Unlike some of the other booms that have hit the ASX, the rapid rise of some of the country’s lithium miners has gone somewhat unnoticed by many investors. But the investors who have been keeping score will know about the enormous returns some of these companies have generated in recent times.

Indeed, while Bellamy’s and Blackmores were hogging the spotlight in 2015 in what was deemed to be a baby formula boom, there was one company that generated a far superior return to either of those shares.

That company’s name is General Mining Corp Ltd (ASX: GMM). Its shares soared a remarkable 5,000% during the 2015 calendar year from 0.5 cent to 25.5 cents. They have since soared another 148% to 63.2 cents, representing a total gain of 12,540% since January 2015.

Source: Google Finance

Source: Google Finance

To give that figure some context, let’s say you’d invested just $1,000 in General Mining shares at the beginning of 2015, and refrained from selling any of them until now. They would now be worth a whopping $126,400.

Of course, General Mining is by far the standout performer from the industry, but there are numerous others which have also generated huge gains for investors. Prospect Resources Ltd (ASX: PSC), for instance, has risen 325%, while Galaxy Resources Limited (ASX: GXY) and Kingston Resources Ltd (ASX: KSN) are up 1,553% and 58%, respectively.

Dakota Minerals Ltd (ASX: DKO) shares have also risen 700% since early January 2015. Google Finance shows this as a 16,900% gain, but investors need to consider that there was a 100:1 consolidation of its shares at the end of December 2014, which appears to have played a role in that result.

Is it worth your money?

While you can read about the rapid rise of the lithium mineral here (notably, lithium is used in batteries and renewable energy), it’s well worth reconsidering the risks involved with investing in the sector.

Indeed, seeing those kind of returns would be tempting even to some of the most experienced investors. But therein lies the issue…

Quite often, what happens is investors pile into the shares hoping that the momentum will continue. It can continue for quite some time, but the eventual falls can be very sharp, wiping out enormous gains literally overnight.

Of course, there is the argument that the price of lithium itself has skyrocketed in recent months, “justifying” those share price gains. But then again, a rising lithium price will attract more and more competitors, ultimately pushing the price back down.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to tell how long these kind of booms and bubbles will last, but when they do end – or when the hype begins to fade – the outcomes can be terrible for investors in the sector.

As such, while the potential returns may seem extremely attractive, it seems investors would be wise to watch this one play out from the sidelines.

In the meantime, there are plenty of other great shares offering plenty of value to investors today. Check out the companies which The Motley Fool's renowned dividend investing guru recently named his 3 Best Dividend Buys Now. Which means if you're reading this message right now, you're not on the list to uncover their names before they potentially go gangbusters. Simply click here to learn more about these shares.

Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman owns shares of Bellamy's Australia. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of Bellamy's Australia. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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