China brings in Ga, Ge export permitting
From 1 August, the Chinese government announced that eight products related to gallium and six to germanium will require export permits, citing national security. The move appeared to be in retaliation to North American, Japanese and some European governments placing restrictions on Chinese semiconductors. The move caused mostly confusion and a roughly six-week delay in processing exports as producers had to apply for permits, valid for 6 months, requiring to detail the end use of materials by the purchaser.
However such export licensing is nothing new, Dan Manaig, director of Global Sales and Strategy at TuocaiTech tells the MMTA, ”It is no different to Canada asking for export permits for cadmium or tellurium in 2021.” China would not want to undermine its high tech market, and the move could even boost domestic manufacture of lower-end semiconductors, he suggested. Also, it could buoy the export price of germanium that had been lower in overseas markets than in China. By contrast August, saw a drop in domestic prices for gallium amid export delays, with talk of potential production cuts if the trend continued.
No law for the high seas
The summer is now behind us, and so is the meeting in Jamaica in July of the International Seabed Authority (ISA), to which prospective mining companies, governments and environmentalists alike had looked to thrash out regulations over deep sea mining in waters being national territories known as the high seas, and described by the UN as the “common heritage of mankind”.
As things played out, key parts of the meeting ended up being held behind closed doors, with proponents and opponents of deep sea mining at loggerheads. A motion by the latter, notably including France and Chile for a “precautionary pause” or temporary moratorium was reportedly blocked by China, before being finally approved for being tabled in 2024. The meeting failed to agree a Mining Code, but with all sides agreeing to work towards an “indicative target” of agreeing one by 2025. While this does nor expressly open the door to exploitation, the lack of regulation leaves a loophole open for deep sea mining companies, as the ISA is now required to consider exploration permit applications without the code in place. The Metals Company, whose ambition to mine in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ) of the Pacific has prompted its sponsor Nauru to trigger the deadline clause for the mining code has voiced intent to apply for a licence in 2024.
In June we reported on the controversy surrounding the issue, however it goes deeper. Although the discussion has focused on polymetallic nodules lying on the seabed, and the potential disturbance of the seafloor that hosts thousands of newly discovered — and yet to be discovered marine life— some deep sea mining ambitions extend to mining hydrothermal vents that form polymetallic sulphide deposits, hat could result in even greater and irreversible structural disturbance. There are fears that all this activity could disrupt the ocean’s role as the Earth’s carbon sink. In July and August, ocean water temperatures broke records, with surface temperatures topping 100F (38°C) off US coast.
Last year, the British Geological Survey, and MMTA’s academic member, in partnership with the National Oceanography Centre and Heriot-Watt University produced an independent evidence review into deep sea mining, Read it here
US updates Critical Materials list
In July, the US Department of Energy published an updated 2023 Critical Materials Assessment, which designates some like copper, aluminium, nickel and silicon as critical in the medium term due to the needs of electrification. Other critical materials include cobalt, gallium, magnesium, platinum group metals and rare earths. The updated list will inform investment decisions under the Critical Materials Research, Development, Demonstration, and Commercialization Application Program (RDD&CA) as well as tax credits under the Inflation Reduction Act
Kakhovska Dam destruction — how to help
In the last issue of the Crucible we reported on how Ukraine’s manganese miners and ferroalloy smelters have been affected by the destruction of the Kakhovska Dam.
The Ukrainian Ferroalloy Producers Association has partnered with water filtration systems supplier Ecosoft to install new filtration systems for the manganese mining city of Marhanets. The city’s main employer, JSC Marhanets mining and processing plan has already ordered two water purification systems to provide workers at the plant with drinkable water. At least another purification system worth 13,320 is required. You can donate to this project via the following charitable organization account:
MBO MBF Hromadnyanska Gidnist.
Address: Vul. Priozerna, B3, Kyiv 01001, Ukraine
IBAN Account number: UA733052990000026009035030328
Bank SWIFT Code: PBANUA2X
Bank Branch Address: JSC CB “PRIVATBANK”, 1D HRUSHEVSKOHO STR., KYIV, 01001, UKRAINE