The S&P/ASX 300 Metals and Mining Index (ASX: XMM) has dropped 8% in a year, but some ASX shares exploring critical minerals are bucking the trend.
According to Geoscience Australia, critical minerals are crucial elements for modern technologies, economies and national security.
There are several ASX-listed companies involved in the exploration, mining or production of three critical minerals: vanadium, tungsten, and cobalt.
Let's take a look at what these minerals are used for and which ASX shares are involved.
Vanadium is a silver-grey element used in steel alloys, nuclear reactors and space vehicles. Further, it is seen as a metal that could be used in the cathodes of batteries in electric vehicles (EV).
One vanadium share on the ASX is Australian Vanadium Ltd (ASX: AVL). The AVL share price has surged 181% over the past 12 months, and it's soaring 103% year to date. The company is exploring the Australian Vanadium Project in Western Australia.
Another vanadium explorer is Neometals Ltd (ASX: NMT), an ASX share working on vanadium recovery in Scandinavian countries. The Neometals share price has surged 154% in the past year but is down 10% since the start of 2022.
The critical mineral tungsten is another rare metal that can be used in the production of lithium-ion batteries. Group 6 Metals Ltd (ASX: G6M) is redeveloping a mine to explore tungsten in King Island, Tasmania. The company's share price has surged 40% year to date, although it has fallen 12% over the past 12 months.
ABC TV Four Corners viewers who tuned in to the documentary program this week would have seen Group 6 featured on the show. Chairman Johann Jacobs revealed the company was attracting interest from United States officials. He said he had held three meetings with the US embassy in 12 months, adding:
At this stage, they don't have any financial interest, but they certainly are very keen to see us progress and develop the mine because it's another supply chain… from a friendly nation.
Cobalt Blue Holdings Ltd (ASX: COB) is one ASX share exploring cobalt. The company has seen its shares surge 171% over the past 12 months and 86% year to date. In today's trade, the company's share price jumped nearly 14%.
In April, the company received a $15 million Federal Government grant for the Broken Hill Cobalt Project.
Cobalt is used in alloys, magnets and as a catalyst for the petroleum and chemical industries. The metal is also used in lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles. Cobalt helps stop cathodes in the batteries from overheating.
Our final ASX share is cobalt explorer Jervois Global Ltd (ASX: JRV), which is exploring the critical mineral in Idaho, United States. Jervois shares have surged 87% in the past year and 27% year to date.