Hyperion Metals (HYM) - Entrepreneur Shaking Up the Metals Sector
Hyperion Metals is focused on developing zero-carbon, sustainable critical minerals in the U.S for industries driving the modern world, from space exploration and electric vehicles through to glass, paints, and pigments.
Matt Gordon caught up with Anastasios Arima, Managing Director, CEO, and Co-founder, Hyperion Metals. Mr. Arima has a strong background in identifying company-defining resource projects. He is the founder of Piedmont Lithium. He has experience in the formation and development of energy and resource projects in North America and Europe. His educational credentials include a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Engineering degree from the University of Western Australia.
Hyperion Metals is an exploration and development company focused on mineral properties. The company was founded in 2017 and is headquartered in Australia. The company is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX: HYM). Hyperion Metals is developing sustainable critical minerals and metals for the United States. It aims to be a low-to-zero carbon organization.
Hyperion Metals is working towards becoming a self-sustaining supply chain to become the sole provider of zero-carbon, low-cost, and sustainable titanium metal. The company aims to capture a monopoly over the lightweight structural markets that are currently being dominated by the aluminum and stainless steel industries.
The Titan Project
The company's foundational asset is the Titan Project situated in Tennessee. This wholly-owned asset covers a large area of heavy mineral sands (HMS) properties featuring titanium and zircon. This area was historically explored between 1960-1990 and features over 200 drill holes and a bulk sample mining operation.
The company is leveraging this deposit and integrating it with breakthrough technology that was developed by the Department of Energy in conjunction with Boeing and Arconic. This technology is capable of converting titanium metal scrap into very low-cost titanium metal. The company is looking to re-shore key critical minerals and metals with a strong focus on titanium and rare earth.
The Titan project is a sandpit, the simplest form of mining that is well understood and easy to work compared to other forms of mining. The site features a well-built infrastructure where existing grids and rail networks can be utilized for project development. The company has spent $4M-$5M on drilling operations and test work at the Titan project. It has a strong understanding of the underlying deposit and its global significance.
Hyperion Metals started out in the fossil fuel industry through the initiation of multiple coal companies. The company sold its assets during the first coal boom between 2008-2011 for a $1.2Bn valuation. This project is now one of the largest export thermal coal mines in North America.
As the company shifted operations to the US, it took a departure from the fossil fuel industry and started exploring the critical minerals and metals market. This led to the establishment of Piedmont Lithium. Over the past 2 years, the company's team has focused strongly on southeast development. The company's core team studied the industry and downstream requirements for titanium metal, which led to the formation of Hyperion Metals.
A Growing Need for Innovation
For the past 70 years, titanium metal was produced by the carbon-heavy and energy-intensive Kroll process. Hyperion Metals developed a proprietary technology that utilizes metal hydrides to develop low-cost titanium metal. This technology was funded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), set up by the Obama administration. Professor Zak Fang from the University of Utah utilized the $7M funding to carry out early-stage critical research to bring the technology from the laboratory to a pilot scale.
This patented technology utilizes high oxygen content in conjunction with hydrogen to acquire titanium metal from minerals and scrap. An additional $3M funding was provided by the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Energy (DOE) in the form of grants to bring this project to a pilot scale.
The end-product is titanium metal powder that has a significantly lower energy intensity along with being cost-effective. This technology can be used for application in powdered metallurgy and 3D printing. This technology can also be used for zirconium metal production. Hyperion Metals is currently expanding this ongoing research and testing other metals using this process.
The company intends to use its proprietary technology to develop low-cost titanium for the American, and European markets. Over time, the company is looking to become a global titanium metal supplier.
The Titanium Market
The titanium metal market currently stands at $4Bn-$5Bn annually, while the stainless steel market is $110Bn-$115Bn, and the aluminum market is valued at $160Bn. The majority of the titanium market is dominated by Chinese and Russian supply. A large portion of the market comprises primary metals instead of end parts. The United States has the largest requirement for titanium for its aerospace and defense applications.
Hyperion Metals speculates that low-cost titanium will replace stainless steel and aluminum due to superior corrosion resistance properties, and tensile strength. As titanium is 45% lighter than its stainless steel counterparts, the material is ideal for use in a variety of applications. Utilizing titanium in electric vehicles (EV) can lead to a 10% jump in energy density enabling battery manufacturers to significantly increase the range of their EVs.
OTC Listing Considerations
Hyperion Metals looks at an OTC listing as an intermediary step towards a NASDAQ listing. It is prioritizing the latter to expand its market presence. The company's association with Tesla through Piedmont Lithium has garnered increased interest from the market.
Targets 2021 and Beyond
Hyperion Metals recently raised $24M through a private placement in Australia. The company has a current market cap of $160M. The company is focusing its resources on the minerals business, the Titan project, and its metals business. Its chalk resource helps the company establish itself in the market, opening the doors for potential customers in the titanium mineral and rare earth mineral domains.
The company will continue to carry out test work and a scoping study to identify the project cost estimations. Following this, the company will look into off-take agreements for its mineral products that include zirconium, titanium, and rare earth minerals. The company has a working relationship and an MOU signed with Energy Fuels to process the material and sell it directly to the supply chains.
Hyperion Metals' critical mineral business has garnered renewed interest from the US market due to its strong focus on safety, sustainability, and decarbonization.
The company has committed $10M out of the $24M capital raise towards optimizing its ore supply, titanium scrap, and titanium metal production. Its technology enables the development of 100% recyclable titanium metal which was previously unachievable with the Kroll process. This optimization will continue over the next 12 months.
Hyperion Metals is looking to scale up its operations by setting up a dedicated facility to generate prototypes of small-batch production for suppliers. The construction for this facility is scheduled to start in 2022.
The company is aggressively working towards exploration, land consolidation while carrying out the PFS (Preliminary Feasibility Study), and Scoping Study. It plans to conclude the Feasibility Study (FS) by the end of 2022. The company is accelerating the metallurgy test work programs that will be included in the PFS and FS.
Hyperion Metals has already sent customer samples for its titanium and zircon supply. The company has observed added benefits of being a local supplier for the US industries, which also facilitates a significant drop in the carbon footprint and logistics. This ties in with the company's objective towards decarbonization.
Hyperion Metals is currently in discussion with multiple technology partners for potential prototyping. It has signed an MOU with EOS, one of the largest 3D printing machine manufacturers based out of Germany to deploy low-cost, sustainable titanium powders.
Over the course of the next 3-6 months, the company is looking to conclude its metallurgical test programs, put out a resource while looking for additional land acquisition opportunities. The company is also in talks with various machine makers, part manufacturers, stakeholders, and end-users to develop a sustainable supply chain in the US and Europe.