The beginning of the end of Europe dependence. On China for valuable rare earths may lie buried deep beneath. The rugged borders of northern Sweden, above the Arctic Circle.
Sweden’s iron-ore miner LKAB said on Thursday. It had identified “significant deposits” of rare earth elements in Lapland. That are needed to make smartphones, electric vehicles and wind turbines.
The state-owned company says the iron ore mine in Kiruna. About 600 miles north of Stockholm, contains more than 1 million tons of rare earth oxides.
According to LKAB, it is the largest known deposit of its kind in Europe. But the company has warned that it could take at least a decade before mining begins.
Swedish Industry Minister Eba Busch called Sweden “a gold mine” after the discovery. His announcement comes as the European Union’s executive. The European Commission, puts the finishing touches on. A proposal for its critical raw materials legislation. That will help develop reliable and robust supply chains.
Rare earths have now reached the lives of almost everyone on the planet. Becoming everything from hard drives to elevators and trains. They are particularly important in the growing field of green energy. Powering wind turbines and electric vehicle engines.
But the E.U. The market lags behind competitors, with about 98% of rare. Earth minerals sourced from China, none of which are mined in Europe.
And according to the European Commission. Demand will increase fivefold by 2030 due to the digital. And green transformation of the bloc’s economies.
Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton has warned. That the EU’s ambitions to become the first climate-neutral continent. Are at risk without secure and sustainable access to raw materials.
“Our twin green and digital transformations will live or die. By the performance of our supply chains,” he said. “Take China, it has a on rare earths and permanent magnets, and prices have gone up 50-90% in the last year alone. Supply of raw materials has become a real geopolitical tool.
This must change
E.U. It is also keen to learn from the past and reduce its one-sided dependence on Russia for oil and gas. As it has developed, only recently to begin severing ties. After Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine triggered the war on February 24.
“This must change,” Bush said, as European commissioners traveled. Kiruna to kick off Sweden’s six-month rotating E.U. Presidency “In the short term. We need to diversify our trade, but in the long term we cannot rely on trade agreements. Electrification, self-sufficiency in the European Union. And independence from Russia and China will begin to mine.”
LKAB – which also develops carbon-free iron ore projects. Said the rare earth deposits were found near. The world’s largest underground iron ore mine operating in Kiruna. Permits are distributed very , but exploration won’t start for years.
“If we look at how other permit processes have worked within our industry. It will be at least 10-15 years before we can actually start mining. And deliver raw materials to the market,” said LKAB CEO Jan Moström. “We must change the permit process to ensure increased mining of this type of raw material in Europe.”