Efforts to Replace Chinese Supply
European companies are actively seeking alternatives to the gallium and germanium supply, currently under threat due to China’s export restrictions. These vital metals, essential for high-tech electronics, have seen reduced shipments following China’s decision to limit exports.
EU Incentives and Support Required
Amidst EU authorities’ encouragement for local production, Greek group Mytilineos has proposed a pilot project aimed at efficient gallium extraction. The initiative could meet the EU’s annual demand of 40-45 metric tons within 18 months. However, CEO Evangelos Mytilineos emphasized the need for EU support, particularly in the face of rising energy costs and carbon emission levies affecting the aluminium sector.
Challenges and Potential Solutions
European primary aluminium production has significantly declined since 2008, with zinc smelters also facing similar energy cost pressures. In response, Belgian zinc producer Nyrstar is exploring gallium and germanium recovery projects. The forthcoming EU Critical Raw Materials Act aims to establish mining, recycling, and processing targets for essential materials, but industry group Eurometaux has called for additional funding and operational cost reductions.
Broader Industry Perspective
The need for proactive measures is evident as the industry faces varied supply challenges, including recent issues with magnesium and graphite. Eurometaux urges the EU to create viable conditions for future mineral operations to ensure preparedness against potential market disruptions.