The Chinese Commerce Ministry and Customs Department announced plans to limit exports of two metals, gallium, and germanium, along with several of their compounds, starting August 1. The move is aimed at safeguarding the country's national security and interests, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing the Ministry's Monday notice.
Exporters seeking to start or continue shipping gallium and germanium out of China will now need to apply for licenses from the Commerce Ministry, as per a recent announcement. The exporters will be required to furnish details of the overseas buyers and their applications.
Gallium and germanium, classified as “minor metals”, are produced in small concentrations as a byproduct from refineries focused on other, more mainstream raw materials like zinc or alumina. These metals are essential for manufacturing electronics, semiconductors, and solar products.
New restrictions on gallium and germanium exports are seen as China's attempt to secure its supply of critical materials and maintain its technological dominance.
Although trade flows in these small and niche markets can be challenging to track, China remains the dominant source of both metals, supplying 94% of gallium and 83% of germanium, according to a critical raw materials study conducted by the European Union earlier this year.