STOCKPILING GALLIUM FOR A RAINY DAY

Gallium Price ($US/KG)
22 May 2024 : Price $805.90 
1 January 2024: Price $755.80

Source: (https://strategicmetalsinvest.com/gallium-prices/)

Gallium and in particular Gallium Nitride has been progressively incorporated into new technologies over the last 2 decades due its unique properties. Outside the US Dept of Defense, Japan and South Korea are second and third respectively as significant consumers of Gallium. A recent announcement by Samsung to invest heavily into GaN manufacturing capability is likely to see that increase even further.

No surprise then this week that South Korea has started building its inventories of critical minerals to secure supplies.  The nation has already bought some lithium carbonate this year from Chile via state-controlled Korea Mine Rehabilitation and Mineral Resources Corp (KOMIR).  The government has now allocated US$171m to secure critical minerals including its lithium reserves for EV batteries to counter potential shortages the budget marks a 500% jump from last year.

The more interesting part of the plan is to stockpile Gallium and rare earths.  As BMO notes, “we do expect that many key economies around the world will look to rebuild inventories of a number of metals over the coming years, given growing geopolitical segmentation and supply chain risks. If this is done via purchases of existing material however, it simply adds to demand pressures across these materials without helping to solve the extraction bottleneck.”

CRITICAL METAL = THE CRITICAL OPPORTUNITY 

Transforming Power Electronics
  • Creating smaller, energy-efficient devices
  • Faster and more reliable 5G networks
  • Boost efficiency and performance in data-hungry processes
  • Expect broad integration, leading to a connected, energy-efficient, tech-advanced future.
Immense Market Opportunity
  • 5G telecommunications
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Internet of Things
  • Electric Vehicles / Self-Driving Cars
  • Global Semiconductor Market was U$574.6 bn in 2022 and forecast to grow at 8.8% CAGR to U$1,307.7 bn by 2032
Golconda
  • Infrastructure
  • Patented Claims
  • Grade x Intercepts
  • Advanced Geological Model
  • Proximity to End Users
  • Strategic Location
SCOTIA

The team at Scotia wrote a fantastic 20-pager looking at the 3 potential most vulnerable critical minerals in the production of semiconductors. (We suggest you contact your Scotia representative and get access to it). Hint: Gallium is one of them.

Critical Minerals – Critical Minerals for Semiconductors: A Companion Guide.  

OUR TAKE:  MIXED

As a companion to the Scotiabank-sponsored report entitled “Mineral Demands for Resilient Semiconductor Supply Chains” authored by the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), we provide a more in-depth review of the market fundamentals for the three most potentially vulnerable critical minerals required for the production of semiconductors (semis), namely gallium, germanium, and fluorspar.

Although these three critical minerals are immaterial to our equity coverage universe (unlike copper, lithium, and nickel), these markets serve to demonstrate the unintended consequences and resulting vulnerability to Western World supply chains/national security, resulting from the multi-decade transition of off-shoring the majority of global smelting and refining capacity for most commodities to China.

In our view, Western governments need to financially incentivize mining companies to invest in and expand new and existing domestic smelting and refining capabilities in order to reduce our reliance on China for critical minerals. Given the obvious environmental and social license impacts, including the consumption of scarce power and water, significant public education efforts will be required in concert.

A US PERSPECTIVE

  • Imports of gallium metal and gallium arsenide (GaAs) wafers were valued at about $5 million and $220 million, respectively (2022)
  • Circa 77% of the gallium consumed in the United States was in GaAs, GaN, and gallium phosphide wafers
  • Uses of Integrated Circuit’s included defense applications, high-performance computers, and telecommunications equipment
  • No US Government Stockpiles
WORLD RESOURCES
  • The average gallium content of bauxite is 50 parts per million (50 ppm or 50 g/t)
  • Some domestic zinc ores contain up to 50 parts per million gallium and could be a significant resource, although no gallium is currently recovered from domestic ores (US)
  • Gallium contained in world resources of bauxite is estimated to exceed 1 million tons, and a considerable quantity could be contained in world zinc resources.
  • However, less than 10% of the gallium in bauxite and zinc resources is potentially recoverable
GALLIUM SUPPLY
WORLD PRIMARY LOW-PURITY GALLIUM PRODUCTION
  • China is the leading global producer of low-purity Gallium
  • Globally, most of primary Gallium is recovered as a byproduct of processing bauxite and, the remainder produced from zinc-processing residues
  • No domestic primary (low-purity, unrefined) Gallium has been recovered in the US since 1987

Estimated 2. U.S. Geological Survey, 2023, Mineral commodity summaries 2023: U.S. Geological Survey, 210 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/mcs2023

INFINEON

European semiconductor behemoth, Infineon announced new power supply units to support AI energy demands. “ Infineon Technologies has opened a new chapter in the energy supply domain for AI systems and unveiled a roadmap of energy-efficient power supply units (PSU) specifically designed to address the current and future energy needs of AI data canters. 

“With the unveiling of our roadmap and our latest development, the 8kW PSU, Infineon continues to lead the way in providing innovative semiconductor solutions based on Si, SiC, and GaN that address the evolving demands of AI infrastructure,” said Adam White, division president power and sensor systems, Infineon.

https://www.datacenterdynamics.com/en/news/infineon-announces-power-supply-units-to-support-ai-energy-demands/

CSIS

The Center for Strategic & International Studies this week updated its Strategic view of Gallium Nitride. It’s a great 10-minute read and a perfect summary of the current state of the market. We will leave you with their conclusion however the complete article is worth a read. (Highlighting added by G50 Corp.)

GaN’s unique qualities (e.g., higher speed, lower resistance, higher breakdown voltage) make it widely applicable to a diverse set of markets, allowing it to stand apart from silicon-based semiconductors. As such, these abilities underscore its potential to revolutionize strategic industries and bolster national security, especially in defense radar systems and power electronics. Unlike silicon fabs that require costly advanced lithography equipment, GaN production can leverage more cost-effective methods. GaN chips can be manufactured on eight-inch wafers using legacy (fully depreciated) equipment. In other words, cutting-edge GaN technology can be produced using fabrication equipment that is obsolete for silicon.

The rapid evolution of critical technologies such as 5G telecommunications and electric mobility necessitates advancements in semiconductor materials, particularly for higher power densities, faster switching frequencies, and greater thermal resilience. As the United States leads in GaN technology research, there exists a significant opportunity for the United States and its allies to lead the charge in the next wave of semiconductor innovation—given the right blend of government policy and private sector initiatives. The geopolitical stakes are higher than ever, and the United States should not pass over the advantages of GaN in its semiconductor strategy.

https://www.csis.org/analysis/gallium-nitride-strategic-opportunity-semiconductor-industry

INTROSPECTIVE MARKET RESEARCH

The chart of the week goes to Introspective Market Research and serves as a reminder of the size of the prize.

Hyperscale Data Center Market Size to Hit US$ 963.9 Billion by 2032 | CAGR of 23.3% As Revealed In New Report