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 Gallium Germanium Exporte infographic
Grafik zeigt Importe von Gallium und Germanium aus China.


China beschränkt Export von high-tech Metallen

By Duncan Mil

July 10, 2023 - China vis clamping down on exports of two silicon alternatives from August 1 -- gallium and germanium. China is the most significant global source of the two rare metals.

China announced on July 3 that it planned to impose export restrictions on gallium and germanium products to protect national security interests.

The two niche metals are essential in chipmaking, communications, electric vehicles and military industries -- with applications in radars, high-power lasers and satellite technology.

Gallium is a by-product of processing bauxite and zinc ores, while germanium is a by-product of zinc production.

Japan is the world’s biggest importer of gallium and germanium, spending more than US$200 million on the two silvery-white metals last year. South Korea follows with $171 million.

Kim Yang-paeng, a researcher at the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade, said the restrictions were “worrisome” for South Korean chipmakers. “Korean companies can find alternative sources, but it will take some time,” said Kim.

China accounted for about 98% of the world’s gallium production in 2022, estimated at 430 tonnes. China was also the world’s leading producer of germanium last year, with the country controlling 68% of global refinery production, estimated at 140 tonnes, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

China exported 94 tonnes of gallium and 43.7 tonnes of germanium in 2022. U.S. imports were worth about $60 million, according to USGS.

The EU imported $130 million of germanium in 2022, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence.

PUBLISHED: 10/07/2023; STORY: Graphic News