Titanium and critical materials producer IperionX has secured a $12.7m grant from the US Department of Defense (DoD) to support the domestic production of titanium.

Awarded under the Defense Production Act (DPA), the grant will help expedite titanium manufacturing in the country by building a production facility in Halifax County, Virginia.

The plant will initially have a titanium production capacity of 125t per annum.

After the facility is commissioned, the company plans to further boost its production through a modular method to 1,125t per annum. First production at the site is anticipated next year.

Titanium is a metal known for its strength-to-weight ratio and is also resistant to high temperatures and corrosion.

These features make it one of the critical materials for several US defence systems across a range of applications in additive manufacturing, aerospace, automotive sectors, consumer electronics, hydrogen, medical and space.

The DoD is said to have conducted due diligence on IperionX’s titanium metal technologies, with its representatives having visited the pilot plant in Utah.

The country has a limited domestic primary titanium metal capacity and imports more than 95% of the metal for critical defence and other advanced industries.

IperionX aims to build a titanium supply chain in the country and reduce its reliance on imports from foreign nations.

The conventional method of producing the metal involves the ‘Kroll process’, which has been around since the 1940s. This is a high-cost, energy and carbon-intensive method.

However, IperionX claims to have developed a production technology, which uses less energy to produce high-strength titanium, at a lower cost with zero scope 1 and 2 emissions.

IperionX CEO Anastasios Arima said: “Titanium for the US defence sector is currently sourced over long distances from foreign nations. We are pleased to receive this award from the US DoD that will assist IperionX to re-shore a lower-cost, more sustainable and fully integrated US titanium supply chain that is critical to America’s national security.”

The company also secured commitments for a $16.7m (A$26.3m) placement, which will see the issuance of 21 million shares at A$1.25 apiece.

The private placement was led by current shareholders including B Riley Principal Investments, Fidelity International and Inherent Group.

This follows IperionX’s receipt of $11.5m in equipment finance from the Export-Import Bank of the United States, with a repayment tenure of seven years.

In total, the company has obtained $40.9m in new funding.