Piedmont, Ioneer Advance; Senators Oppose Steel Deal

Piedmont and Ioneer advance in lithium projects, Senators oppose US Steel deal over national security, mining sector sees key developments.

By Mackenzie Crow

4/15, 17:47 EDT
Royal Gold, Inc.

Key Takeaway

  • Piedmont Lithium and Ioneer advance in U.S. lithium projects, crucial for the electric vehicle supply chain, with production starting dates set.
  • Senators urge President Biden to block Nippon Steel's acquisition of U.S. Steel over national security, amidst ongoing government reviews.
  • Mining sector sees developments with Atlas Lithium's accelerated production plans and significant expansions in titanium and precious metals by IperionX, Royal Gold, Hecla Mining, and Coeur Mining.

Lithium Projects Advance

Piedmont Lithium has received a crucial permit allowing the construction, operation, and reclamation of its site, marking a significant step forward since the review process began in August 2021. CEO Keith Phillips emphasized the project's role in the U.S. electric vehicle supply chain and its expected economic boost to Gaston County through job creation. Similarly, Ioneer is progressing with its U.S. lithium production project, which includes protective measures for the endangered Tiehm’s buckwheat. Public commentary on Ioneer's draft will commence on April 19, with a final decision anticipated by October 2024, aiming for production to start in 2027.

Steel Industry and National Security

Two Democratic senators from steel-producing states Ohio and Pennsylvania have called on President Joe Biden to halt Nippon Steel's acquisition of U.S. Steel, citing national security concerns. President Biden has expressed opposition to the deal, which is undergoing a secretive national security review and an extended antitrust probe by the Justice Department. This scrutiny could delay the transaction's completion, initially expected by mid-2024.

Mining Sector Developments

The mining sector is witnessing several key developments. Atlas Lithium is set to accelerate its production with a new financing strategy and modular DMS technology, aiming for a Q4 2024 start. ATI has completed an expansion to enhance its production capabilities, particularly in aerospace and defense materials. Argan reports optimism in renewable and natural gas projects despite a $13.6 million loss related to the Kilroot Power Station project, with fourth-quarter revenues growing 38.5% year-over-year.

Titanium and Precious Metals Production

IperionX is developing a comprehensive American titanium supply chain to support the defense and advanced technology sectors. Royal Gold reported selling 49,500 GEOs, with cost of sales at approximately $436 per GEO. Hecla Mining and Coeur Mining are both reporting production increases and operational improvements, with Hecla aiming for 17 million ounces of silver in 2024 and Coeur Mining enhancing cash flow through its Rochester mine.

Management Quotes

  • Keith Phillips, CEO of Piedmont Lithium:

    "This permit... enables the construction, operation and reclamation of the site... [The project is] a low-cost, sustainable lithium operation crucial to the U.S. electric vehicle supply chain, expected to significantly boost Gaston County’s economy and create hundreds of jobs."