Swedish Arctic region sees massive rare earth metals discovery
The greatest source of rare earths in Europe, which are used in everything from mobile phones to missiles, was discovered in Sweden.
A Swedish minister lauded the discovery as a means to lessen the EU’s reliance on China since rare earths are not currently mined in Europe.
Given the anticipated surge in demand for wind turbines and electric vehicles, the discovery is also being viewed as “decisive” for the green transition.
In 2021, China would supply 98% of the rare earths utilized in the EU.
There have reportedly been discoveries in Sweden’s far north totaling more than one million tonnes.
Stream BBC Sounds to hear: The EU’s dependence on China due to the race for rare earths
Despite being important, that only accounts for a small portion of the 120 million tonne global reserves, as estimated by the US.
The phrase “rare earth” refers to a collection of 17 elements that are utilized to create a variety of goods and infrastructure that are becoming more vital to daily living.
Mobiles, hard disks, and trains all contain them. But they are also crucial for environmentally friendly technology, such as electric cars and wind turbines. Some, like missile guidance systems, are necessary for military hardware.
Extraction is challenging and might be bad for the environment.
By 2030, there will be a fivefold rise in demand for them.
The EU’s internal market commissioner, Thierry Breton, predicted last year that lignum and rare earths will eventually be more significant than oil and gas.
Ebba Busch, the Swedish energy minister, stated during a news conference on Thursday that the EU was “far too dependent on other countries for these materials” and emphasized that something needed to change.
“Electrification, the EU’s independence from Russia and China, and self-sufficiency will all start in the mine,” she declared.
According to Jan Mostrom, CEO of LKAB Mining, the newly discovered raw minerals might not be commercially available for 10 to 15 years. Due to assessments of environmental risk, permitting procedures take time.
However, Mr. Mostrom urged officials to move more quickly “to enable increasing mining of this type of raw material in Europe.”