Modern Sources of Germanium


March 3, 2023

Shop Now

The amount of germanium in the earth's crust has been calculated to be 6.7 parts per million. There are no true germanium minerals to make germanium wafers, simply minerals that contain significant amounts of the element. While these minerals have formerly been mined in Germany, Latin America, and Africa, there are new sources of this mineral.

Germanium pieces used to make germanium wafer over a black background

New Sources of Germanium  

Ores and Minerals

Zinc ores and coal are the two primary sources for the industrial production of germanium. The relative cost of using coal in power plants determines how much each source contributes over time. Coal from the Sakhalin Island in Eastern Russia, together with smaller amounts from coking coal facilities in Ukraine, is the principal source of germanium in the former Soviet Union and continues to be so today in Russia and Ukraine.  

Germanium-Bearing Coal  

Other germanium-bearing coal seams have recently been scrutinized in Primorski (Eastern Russia) and the Krasnojarsk region (Central Russia). China produces a significant amount of germanium using coal from Lincang and Mongolia. Germanium was also previously extracted from coal in the UK and Eastern Germany.    

Many germanium producers have looked into the possibilities of recovering germanium from these stacks due to the accessibility of flue dust and ashes. However, many of these projects face financial difficulties in addition to the abundance of other heavy and unwelcome metallic constituents. Current estimates place coal's contribution to the global supply of germanium between 20 and 30 percent.  

Zinc Ores

Although Canada is the top producer and provides around 25% of the market's needs from its zinc ores, China (all producers together) can be considered the main germanium supply. The Gordonsville mine (US-Pasminco), Nanisivic (Canada), Asturiana de Zinc (Spain), and other traditional suppliers of zinc for germanium have recently stopped operating. OMG (Outokumpu Mooney Group) made an investment in a smelter in Lubumbashi (Congo-Zaire) in the late 1990s to recover primarily Cu, Co, and Zn from the "Big Hill."

Microchips made out of germanium wafers

Are You Looking for High-Quality Germanium Wafers?  

At Wafer World, we can provide top-quality materials such as germanium, silicon, and sapphire. Give us a call to check out our products!

Wafer World Banner