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Construction of the Halifax County Recycled Titanium Plant is nearly complete

Construction of the Halifax County Recycled Titanium Plant is nearly complete

Construction of the Halifax County Recycled Titanium Plant is nearly complete

IperionX, the country’s first fully recycled titanium producer, is in the process of renovations at the former shell building in Halifax County, where it will operate a demonstration facility, and the first recycled titanium powder is expected in the coming months.

This is a slight delay from the original schedule; the company initially announced it would be operational by the first quarter of the year.

IperionX did not respond to questions about the installation or modification of the program.

Progress at the site has been “fast and furious” since the September 2022 announcement that the company would locate in the county’s Southern Virginia Technology Park, said Kristy Johnson, executive director of the county’s Industrial Development Authority.

“We have completed the design and engineering for the fit-out of the shell building,” she said. “This construction is ongoing and almost complete.”

IperionX Ltd., based in Charlotte, North Carolina, is an essential minerals company founded in 2020 that said it will make an $82.1 million investment in Halifax and bring 108 jobs to the area.

IperionX is the only manufacturer in the country that uses 100% titanium scrap as a raw material for titanium alloys.

The company said it wants to reduce dependence on foreign nations for titanium and build a domestic supply chain for industries that use titanium, including aerospace, space, medical, consumer electronics, defense, additive manufacturing, hydrogen and automotive.

IperionX already does this on a small scale at a facility in Salt Lake City, Utah. But at the South Boston facility, the company plans to roll out the same process at about 50 times Utah’s scale.

Having the shell building available was a crucial factor in the company choosing Halifax County, Johnson said in 2023.

The 50,000-square-foot space was essentially just walls and a ceiling before renovations began, she said in a recent interview. The building needed plumbing and electrical infrastructure, as well as a layout of the titanium production area, office space, bathrooms and break rooms.

There were no major surprises during this work, and no setbacks or cost overruns due to the pandemic, she said.

IperionX received a $12.7 million award from the US Department of Defense through the Defense Production Act investment program in November 2023. The funding helped the company expand the facility to a demonstration plant, which will be used for process validation industrial for commercialization. This is usually the last step in the research and development process.

In the same month, Halifax IDA leased a second building in the technology park to IperionX.

“As we were working on this construction project for the shell building, we identified that they had a more immediate need for office space and research and development, and we had a building available,” Johnson said. “They have their home base stationed there while they finish construction on the shell building.”

In addition to research and development, IperionX plans to use the second facility as an advanced manufacturing center and prototype products, according to a November statement from the Halifax IDA.

According to a first quarter report from IperionX, the advanced manufacturing center layout is complete and the equipment is now being commissioned. Production of advanced titanium products is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2024, the report said.

This new facility will complement the demonstration facility in the former housing building, the Halifax statement said.

When IperionX announced its presence in Halifax, it credited local leadership and the community as a big draw for the area. The company chose the South Boston location out of more than 100 locations in 30 states.

In addition to local leadership, state-level support has also been a beneficial factor, IperionX CEO Taso Arima said in a 2023 interview.

“We had very strong support from Gov. (Glenn) Youngkin, very strong support from Sen. (Mark) Warner and Sen. (Tim) Kaine,” Arima said. “As our first facility, we wanted to minimize the risk of not having the right people.”

So far, and even though it’s not yet fully operational, IperionX has had a positive impact on the community, Johnson said, noting donations to organizations like the local YMCA.

“They have people moving in here every day and they’re starting to hire locals as well,” she said. “It’s a very positive relationship so far.”