In this video interview, Tracy Weslosky of InvestorIntel spoke with Jack Lifton, the co-founder and Co-Chairman of the Critical Minerals Institute, about recent announcements from China concerning their control over the export of germanium and gallium. These elements are critical raw materials for electronic device production.
Lifton provided some context for the scarcity and significance of gallium. With its close relation to aluminum, gallium is very rare, with an annual production of about 300 tons compared to aluminum’s 50 million tons. Gallium is present in the bauxite ore of aluminum at 40 parts per million but isn’t typically produced. Lifton also touched on gallium’s historical significance; it was produced for the first time during World War II, specifically for the creation of plutonium-type atomic bombs.
When questioned about China’s control over gallium supply, Lifton confirmed that China has 98% of the world supply under its control, attributing this to the nation’s comprehensive gallium processing and purification capabilities. According to him, the 2% remainder might be in Europe, while he isn’t aware of any such processing in the Americas.
Lifton, however, sees potential for the U.S. to increase its gallium production. He mentioned companies like Alcoa, whose predecessors were the original mass producers of gallium, emphasizing that the U.S. possesses the knowledge and ability to produce and purify gallium on a large scale.
As for the potential risks posed by China’s gallium export restrictions, Lifton downplayed concerns of weaponization of this critical mineral. Instead, he viewed it as a retaliatory move by China against U.S. restrictions on their access to the American computer chip market and the prohibition on exporting specialized chip-making machinery to China.
The interview wrapped up with thanks to Lifton and an invitation for the viewers to send their inquiries for further information to [email protected].