Hyperion looks to take the lead role in the US titanium sector
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Hyperion Metals is confident that it can usher in the “Age of Titanium” in 2022, as it positions itself to create a sustainable, low-cost, all-American supply chain for the metal.
The US is currently reliant on imports for 100% of its primary titanium metal for advanced industries such as electric vehicles and space exploration, and 92% of its titanium feedstock demand for paint and pigments – enormous growth markets that Hyperion (ASX:HYM) has set itself up to disrupt courtesy of a mix of minerals, unique technologies and commercial arrangements solidified over the course of a busy 2021.
Despite presenting as a significant upgrade to stainless steel and aluminum across its varied applications, titanium is traditionally more costly and environmentally intensive to produce. But over the course of the past year, Hyperion made great strides in reducing the potential cost and emissions of US home-grown titanium as a disruptor to current metal imports, but also potentially as a superior substitute material for the much larger stainless steel and aluminium industries.
Hyperion has done so by securing 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 Advanced Research Projects Agency – US Department of Energy.
The HAMR process has demonstrated the 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.
These technologies have drawn considerable attention and support, highlighted by a $24m placement in August 2021 to advance scale-up and commercialisation efforts, cornerstoned out of the U.S. by global fund manager Fidelity.
All of it is backed by the company’s Titan Project in Tennessee – a serious resource to feed its vision for a US titanium future. Last October, Hyperion Metals released their maiden resource estimate (MRE) that established the Titan Project as the largest titanium, zircon, and rare earths minerals project in the USA.
“2021 has been a big year for Hyperion. During the year, we secured access to and shown that our technology can really change the world and bring an age of titanium,” managing director Anastasios Arima told Stockhead.
“And importantly, we have also shown that we have the feedstocks to feed this technology, whether it be our titanium minerals from our Titan project, one of the largest sources of titanium minerals in North America, or from titanium scrap that was previously destined for markets like the ferro-titanium market or landfill.
“We have shown that we can really build a sustainable and low-cost supply chain that can bring about an age of titanium.”
This year the company will further build on its progress, beginning a move to list on a national securities exchange in the US and a name change to IperionX Limited.
It’s a move which aims to create greater awareness of Hyperion’s US-focused critical minerals and metals technologies, according to Arima, at a time when the world is particularly focused on supply chain fragility.
“We will now have the ability to get out there and start talking to all stakeholders, whether end user customers or the government or the military, about the use of titanium in applications that is now possible because of our technologies and the way we are building a sustainable, low-cost supply chain for North America,” he said.
Hyperion’s Titan critical mineral project in Tennessee provides a potential source of supply to advanced U.S. industries, including as a source of feedstock for Hyperion’s titanium metal technologies. Over the course of 2021, the company has grown the land position covered by its Titan project to 10,905 acres, more than four times more than the initial 2,100 acres that it held in September 2020.
This provides considerable scope for Hyperion Metals (ASX:HYM) to grow its current resource of 431 million tonnes grading 2.2% total heavy minerals, which consists of 11.1% rutile, 9.5% rutile, 40.3% ilmenite, 2.1% rare earth elements and 14.8% staurolite.
Mineralisation is contained in thick, shallow and unconsolidated sand that is amenable to low-cost, large-scale mining techniques.
While the potential to feed titanium minerals into North America is very much the mainstay of Titan, its rare earths content is also expected to be important for industry on the continent especially given that testwork has indicated that successful flotation of rare earth minerals could be carried out as a preliminary processing stage, and an MoU for sales to U.S. rare earth processor Energy Fuels.
Drilling has already identified the new Camden critical minerals deposit and the company has also proved the value of having its project in the heart of the US by reaching a non-binding agreement to supply titanium feedstocks to Chemours, a world-leading producer of high-quality titanium dioxide products for coatings, plastics, and laminate.
This article was developed in collaboration with Hyperion Metals, 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.