Global titanium squeeze puts IperionX’s Navy deal right in US crosshairs
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IperionX, formerly Hyperion Metals, is up in early trade and running an inside track to secure potentially lucrative US defence contracts for its in-country produced titanium powder.
The company has formally partnered with Ohio-based Materials Resources LLC (MRL), which has 10 years of experience working with the US Department of Defense (DoD), to qualify and demonstrate the performance of its titanium powder for additively manufactured aerospace parts for the U.S. Navy.
Importantly for IperionX (ASX:IPX), the partnership is expected to lead to further projects with other agencies with the DoD, supporting its multiple ongoing discussions regarding the reshoring of a 100% US-sourced titanium supply chain.
Titanium supply is a critical issue for the US as while the metal is required for advanced industries such as electric vehicles and space exploration, 100% of the country’s primary titanium supply is imported.
Success in challenging China and Russia’s dominance in the production of primary titanium metal (70% of current global supply) will be hugely lucrative for the company, which is currently producing titanium metal powders from its operational pilot facility in Utah from titanium metal scrap.
“We are very pleased to be working with MRL to produce and test parts for the US Department of Defense utilizing US sourced titanium alloy powders,” managing director Anastasios Arima said.
He added that in an emergency, US production of titanium components would currently be curtailed if it lost access to imports of titanium sponge (primary titanium metal).
“We see this partnership with MRL as an important step in the reshoring of a 100% US sourced titanium supply chain for military components.”
MRL founder and chief executive officer Ayman Salem said that having a domestic supplier of titanium alloys for additive manufacturing could address a major challenge in the supply chain.
IperionX has an exclusive license to produce low-carbon titanium metal and spherical powders using the breakthrough and patented HAMR and GSD technologies, which were invented by Dr Z. Zak Fang and his team at the University of Utah with US government funding from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency program.
The HAMR process has the demonstrated potential to produce high-quality titanium powders that exceed current industry standards with low-to-zero carbon intensity, lower energy consumption and significantly lower costs.
Meanwhile, the GSD technology is a thermochemical process combining low-cost feedstock material with high yield production that can produce spherical titanium and titanium alloy powders for advanced 3D printing at a fraction of the cost of comparable commercial powders
While the company is currently sourcing titanium from scrap, its Titan Project in Tennessee could provide the US with greater supply security given its maiden resource of 431 million tonnes at 2.2% total heavy minerals (THM) containing 9.5 million tonnes THM.
This establishes Titan as the largest titanium, zircon, and rare earth minerals project in the US.
Shares in IperionX are almost 5% higher on Wednesday morning.
This article was developed in collaboration with IperionX, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.
This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.