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Rising Gallium Prices Also Due to 5G Boom

February 2021 | Market

5G Technology

Photo: denisismagilov / Adobe Stock

It’s not just the prices of rare earths that are rising. Gallium also becomes more expensive. As with the rare earths, this is partly related to lower export volumes from China. According to Argus Media these have fallen by about 10 percent last year: “China’s gallium output is estimated at around 300-320t in 2020, down from 330-350t in 2019, compared with the country’s total capacity of around 650 t/yr.” Whether this trend will continue in 2021 will be seen. But the 5G boom also makes gallium a sought-after raw material.

5G Network Needs Gallium

In general, the expansion of the 5G network is mainly associated with the processing of germanium in fiber optic networks required for 5G. But the demands of 5G technology on other components also have an impact on the gallium market. “Multiple companies involved in telecoms and electronics” Argus Media reports, “pushed to advance technologies to unlock the potential of 5G, such as the continued development of gallium-nitride and gallium-arsenide compound semiconductors.” As a high-performance semiconductor, gallium has an increasingly important role to play in building the 5th generation of digital communication. Argus Media therefore predicts: “The adoption of 5G is expected to boost demand for electronic and battery metals. The new generation of phones require high-efficiency power amplifiers that run on gallium arsenide or gallium nitride.”

Computer Chips with Gallium in Demand

At the beginning of February, the Süddeutsche Zeitung (German) explained another reason for the relevance of gallium. The base stations for 5G data transmission can become extremely hot when the data volume is high. Gallium computer chips can withstand these temperatures better than traditional, silicon-based ones.

5G Technology

Photo: denisismagilov / Adobe Stock

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