Could European Metals Holdings Ltd double by the end of 2017?

Updated: 
BHP Billiton mine

Shares in European Metals Holdings(LSE: EMH) are one of AIM's best performers over the past 12 months. This time last year the shares were worth only 6.7p, 12 months on and today they're trading at 75.80, a gain of 1,085%. These would have turned an initial investment of £1,000 into a staggering £12,226.

European Metals has been able to trounce the wider market as investors have rewarded the company after a year of solid progress at its 100% owned Cinovec Lithium/Tin Project in the Czech Republic. Over the past 12 months, European Metals has begun the development of this asset with multiple drilling plans and resource estimates, all of which have produced better results than expected.

And at the end of last week, the company published its completed preliminary feasibility study, which is the culmination of work to date at the Cinovec project.

Results reveal potential

European Metals' preliminary feasibility study showed a 50% uplift in lithium indicated resource, to 3.9 Mt, an 11.8% in lithium total resource to 7 Mt and an increase in tin resource to 262,600 tonnes.

With such a large lithium resource sitting on the doorstep of European car manufacturers, management hopes that there will be robust demand for European Metals' products when commercial mining begins. With lithium rapidly becoming one of the world's most valuable resources, thanks to its chemical properties that allow construction of rechargeable batteries, it's likely there will be no shortage of buyers if the firm can get production up and running.

Over half of the world's current lithium reserves are located in Bolivia, and Chile is the world's leading producer of the mineral. But as the electric car industry begins to take off, and the demand for batteries increases around the world, battery producers are now looking for sources of the mineral that are closer to home.

Plenty of work to do

European Metals' Czech mine could be the answer to the continent's battery manufacturers' prayers. However, as of yet the project is still in the very early stages, and while last week's updated resource estimate may look attractive, there's an enormous amount of work to do before the company can claim to be a fully functioning lithium producer.

For example, at the end of January European Metals reported that its cash balance had declined to $2.9m Australian dollars at by the end of last year. During the final quarter of the year, the firm spent A$2.2m and received A$3.1m in cash from the issue of shares.

These figures show that the company is relying on the kindness of its investors to keep the lights on. This can only continue for as long as the enterprise is able to achieve results. Indeed, over the past 12 months, European Metals has been able to show investors that it is working towards something by putting together its preliminary feasibility study, and the market has rewarded this progress. For further share price gains, the company will have to continue to report positive updates to the market.

With cash levels dwindling, this might be a problem for the business. Management will have to issue more shares shortly to bolster cash revenues, and it's unlikely this will be the last fundraising.

Put simply, European Metals' outlook is uncertain, and as a result, I'd say the shares are only suitable for investors with the highest risk tolerance.

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Rupert Hargreaves has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.