Umbrella organization calls for better framework conditions for the industry.
In light of the export requirements for gallium and germanium from China, which will soon come into force, the French Minister for Economic Affairs, Bruno Le Maire, last week spoke out in favor of European self-sufficiency. According to the Financial Times (paywall), the EU has apparently already approached companies in the aluminum and zinc production sectors to find out whether it is possible to expand the production of gallium and germanium. These technology metals are a byproduct of that industry. There is also a willingness from industry to improve Europe’s supply of both metals, the Eurometaux umbrella organization writes on its Linkedin channel. For this to succeed, however, the framework conditions would have to be right. An expansion of production would be accompanied by high investment requirements and immense operating costs. Eurometaux also points to the “unacceptably high” energy costs. For steel mills, security is first needed to secure the long-term future before the corresponding investments can be made.
At the same time, the discussion about the direction of industrial policy needs to be broadened. Gallium and germanium are currently in the spotlight, previously, it was magnesium. As China’s dominance extends to other metals, the next commodity could quickly move into the spotlight. There has been speculation in recent weeks that rare earths could also be subject to stricter export controls in the future, or even a reduction in exports. However, this does not seem to be the case now; on the contrary, China exported a record amount in the previous month.