Here’s a roundup of news briefs from around Southwest and Southside. Send yours for possible inclusion to firstname.lastname@example.org.
* * *
South Boston recycled titanium facility receives $12.7 million from Defense Department
IperionX, the first completely recycled titanium manufacturer in the country, has received a $12.7 million award from the U.S. Department of Defense through the Defense Production Act Investment program.
This funding will help IperionX’s South Boston facility scale up to a demonstration plant, which is a facility used to validate an industrial process for commercialization. This is usually the last step in the research and development process.
Aiming to re-shore the U.S. titanium supply chain, IperionX is the only manufacturer in the country that uses 100% titanium scrap as feedstock for titanium alloys.
Right now, the U.S. imports more than 95% of the titanium sponge required for its defense sector, according to an Oct. 30 release announcing the award.
“There is a scarcity of reliable and sustainable sources of titanium supply due to the invasion of Ukraine, with the EU still reliant on Russian titanium, and the U.S. primarily importing from Japan where major producers are nearing capacity and are increasing prices,” said the release.
The company wants to reduce the reliance on foreign nations for titanium and build a supply chain for the defense industry.
Titanium is also critical to other industries in the aerospace, space, medical, consumer electronics, defense, additive manufacturing, hydrogen and automotive sectors, the release said.
The award will allow IperionX to produce 125 metric tons of titanium powder annually. Its goal is to produce 10,000 metric tons of the powder per year within five years.
First production from the South Boston facility is expected in 2024, the release said. IperionX also has a pilot plant in Utah.
* * *
Russell County opens new trails through former coal camp
Russell County this week cut the ribbon on a new series of trails in a former coal camp in the town of Dante.
The county used a $269,999 grant from the Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization program to help construct a series of ATV, biking and walking trails, according to a news release from the Virginia Department of Energy, which oversees the grant program.
The trails run through the town, as well as past old homes, a company store and other portions of the former coal camp.
The trails are part of a larger plan to increase the number of tourists who visit Dante, the release said.
The AMLER program provides funding for economic development projects on land that was mined for coal before 1977. The trails project also led to the reclamation of two mine portals that were left behind from mining in the 1940s, the release said.
* * *
Prince Edward wins state grant for effort to attract agribusiness
Prince Edward County will receive a $20,000 state grant to help it create an economic development plan to attract agribusiness and forest products businesses.
The grant is from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund, or AFID. It will leverage an additional $30,000 in local funds, according to a news release about the award.
“This development plan will provide the county with a roadmap to attract new, viable and sustainable employment and revenue centers, while capitalizing on the agricultural traditions of the area,” Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Matthew Lohr said in the release. “With the support of Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Piedmont Soil and Water Conservation District, we are confident that the community’s voice will be at the forefront.”
[Read more about the history of the AFID program in Cardinal’s previous coverage.]
* * *
Mount Rogers Health District launches Spanish-language helpline
The Mount Rogers Health District has launched a helpline for Spanish speakers in the community.
The health district’s bilingual staff members will be available via the dedicated phone line to answer questions, schedule appointments or assist with other public health services, according to a news release announcing the new service. The helpline will operate 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The Mount Rogers Health District is home to more than 5,000 Hispanic residents and spans eight localities: the counties of Bland, Carroll, Grayson, Smyth, Washington and Wythe and the cities of Bristol and Galax.
Anyone who lives in the Mount Rogers area or receives services at one of the eight health departments can access the Spanish language helpline by calling 276-238-6105.