Mineralium Deposita

, Volume 49, Issue 4, pp 471–486 | Cite as

On the geological availability of germanium

  • Max FrenzelEmail author
  • Marina P. Ketris
  • Jens Gutzmer


Based on a detailed statistical analysis of chemical data published in the scientific literature, estimates were made of the minimum amounts of recoverable Ge contained within sulphidic zinc ores and coals, given current processing technologies. It is expected that at least 119 kt (∼7 kt in zinc ores and ∼112 kt in coal) of recoverable germanium exist within proven reserves (at present stage of knowledge) at grades in excess of 100 ppm in sphalerite and 200 ppm in coal, while at least 440 kt (∼50 kt in zinc ores and ∼390 kt in coal) should become recoverable in the future, being associated to coal reserves at 8–200 ppm Ge and zinc resources containing in excess of 100 ppm Ge in sphalerite. Mississippi Valley Type (MVT) deposits are expected to be the most important hosts of germanium-rich sphalerite, while both brown and hard coals are expected to be equally important as hosts of germanium. The approach taken in this publication shows that reliable minimum estimates for the availability of by-product metals lacking suitable reserve/resource data may be attained by using robust statistical methods and geochemical data published in the scientific literature


Critical metals Resources Reserves Sphalerite Coal 



The authors would like to thank Dr. Raimon Tolosana-Delgado for valuable discussions which helped to significantly improve the manuscript. We are also indebted to Prof. Dr. F.-W. Wellmer, Dr. V. Melfos, and Prof. Dr. V. V. Seredin for their valuable reviews of the manuscript, and Prof. Dr. Ya. E. Yudovich.

Supplementary material

126_2013_506_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (170 kb)
Online Resource 1 A guide to the sphalerite database (.pdf) (PDF 169 kb)
126_2013_506_MOESM2_ESM.xls (464 kb)
Online Resource 2 The sphalerite database (.xls) (XLS 464 kb)
126_2013_506_MOESM3_ESM.xlsx (9.7 mb)
Online Resource 3 Sample simulation spread sheet (.xlsx) (XLSX 9957 kb)
126_2013_506_MOESM4_ESM.pdf (204 kb)
Online Resource 4 Germanium enrichment during the processing of thermal coals (.pdf) (PDF 204 kb)


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Helmholtz-Institute FreibergFreibergGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Geology, Komi Scientific CenterUral Branch of the Russian Academy of SciencesSyktyvkarRussia
  3. 3.Institute for MineralogyUniversity of Technology Bergakademie FreibergFreibergGermany

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