• Battery Age Minerals geologists have touched down in Austria to comb through a century of data from its Bleiberg mine
  • Once a major supplier of zinc and lead, Bleiberg was also the world’s sixth largest germanium producer
  • Germanium a key commodity in semi-conductors, with the importance of diversifying supply highlighted after China instituted export controls last year


Special Report: An Australian explorer is eyeing a lead role supplying critical material germanium, taking a crucial step in a bid to revive one of Europe’s historic and legendary base metals mines.

Battery Age Minerals (ASX:BM8) recently acquired a century of historic data from its Bleiberg mine in Austria. It has now begun the process of ‘mining’ that treasure trove for information on where to target extensions to its rich deposits of zinc, lead and, critically, germanium and gallium.

China has become the world’s dominant purveyor of the metals used in high tech applications like high performance logic chips, a key building block of electric vehicles, artificial intelligence and quantum computing.

Its dominance is due to rules that forced zinc and aluminium smelters to recover any economic materials, even it’s an impost on the producers. That became an axe to wield in an ongoing trade war with the West, restricting exports in a major blow to electronics producers last year.

This ratchets up the strategic importance of BM8’s Bleiberg, which ran for 700 years producing a nationally significant quantum of zinc, lead, cadmium, and fluorite (a mineral crucial to LFP EV batteries) up to its 1993 closure.

Importantly, it also produced over 172t of germanium from only a small portion of the mine.

At that point it was the 6th most prolific producer of germanium globally. Bleiberg wasn’t a noted producer of gallium but was known to host mineralisation.


The tech revolution

Global geopolitical manoeuvring and technological advancements have pushed up the profile of Bleiberg within BM8’s portfolio, which also includes the Falcon Lake lithium project in Ontario, Canada.

Its exploration team is now in Austria, working to review data and validate QA/QC with the local mining services firm GKB-Bergbau GmbH.

“The data collation will lay the foundation for a highly targeted exploration plan to test the Company’s Bleiberg project area for high-grade germanium, zinc and Lead mineralisation,” BM8 said.

“During this period, the BM8 team is also conducting site visits and liaising with the local community to build and strengthen relationships with local mining bodies.”

Germanium’s value in use is not just about China’s export controls, but also more structural concerns including the production methods of the world’s dominant chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited.

It’s planning to increase the use of germanium in next gen silicon germanium chips, with germanium offering superior electron mobility.

In response BM8 is planning to fast-track exploration, stating that its Bleiberg project is ‘uniquely positioned to become a disruptor to the rigid supply chain of these future-facing semi-conductor commodities’.

Battery Age Minerals (ASX:BM8)
Battery Age Minerals


Increasing demand 

The global germanium market is small but highly concentrated, with analysts projecting a CAGR of 3.5% between 2023 and 2030.

Against that backdrop, Battery Age CEO Nigel Broomham says the data acquisition and assessment process presents the opportunity to stake its claim to become a significant new supplier.

“We are pleased to have a team on the ground in Austria to start the process of data collation and review at the Bleiberg Project,” he said.

“This opens a promising new exploration opportunity for Battery Age alongside our flagship Falcon Lake Lithium Project in Canada, in a strategic mineral that is highly sought-after and in increasing demand because of recent changes in the geopolitical context.

“We are looking forward to continuing to build our relationship with the GKB team and other key stakeholders in Austria and to building positive relationships that will support our upcoming exploration endeavours.

“This exercise will allow us to validate the invaluable database encompassing 100-years exploration and production information, which we can leverage to develop a highly targeted exploration plan which we can then fast-track by working closely with the custodian of the adjacent Bleiberg mine and the key players in the region.”



This article was developed in collaboration with Battery Age Minerals, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.


This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.