Swedish Company Finds Large Supply of Rare Minerals

Sweden’s state-owned mining company LKAB has announced it has identified over 1M tons of rare earth oxides in the county’s far north Kiruna area. It is the largest known deposit of such elements in Europe and could play a key role in the transition to green energy in the nordic nation and beyond.

Swedish Company Finds Large Supply of Rare Minerals
Image credit: TT News Agency [via Reuters]

Facts

  • Sweden’s state-owned mining company LKAB has announced it has identified over 1M tons of rare earth oxides in the county’s far north Kiruna area. It is the largest known deposit of such elements in Europe and could play a key role in the transition to green energy in the nordic nation and beyond.
  • Rare earth minerals are essential to many high-tech manufacturing processes and are used in electric vehicles, wind turbines, and many personal electronics.
  • LKAB’s President and CEO Jan Mostrom stressed the importance of mining for rare earth oxides as European countries look to transition to green energy and reduce reliance on China. The PRC mines the majority of rare Earth elements.
  • Ebba Busch, Sweden’s Minister for Energy, Business, and Industry, echoed Mostrom’s position stating, "Electrification, the EU's self-sufficiency and independence from Russia and China will begin in the mine."
  • The European Commission projects that the demand for rare earth minerals will increase by five times by 2030. The minerals are not currently mined in Europe.
  • LKAB says exploration of the mines won’t start for years, even if the permits are delivered quickly. Mostrom says the permit process must be changed because “it will be at least 10-15 years before we can actually begin mining and deliver raw materials to the market," under the current rules.

Sources: CBS, Reuters, Al Jazeera, Politico, and Darien Times.

Narratives

  • Narrative A, as provided by Associated Press. Rare earth elements are vital as we progress in a digital world and look to transition to green energy. Not only are these elements important for technological development and production, but they also have great significance in geopolitical struggles as western countries look to become independent from China’s manufacturing. Sweden’s discovery has implications for Europe and beyond.
  • Narrative B, as provided by Science. While rare earth minerals may play a key role in manufacturing, mining for them presents environmental concerns that cannot be overlooked. Unless carefully regulated, the extraction process can contaminate water and processing raw ore produces potentially toxic chemicals. This major discovery will need to be carefully managed and regulated in the years ahead.