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Sweden. Europe’s largest deposits of rare metals discovered

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In Kiruna, located in northern Sweden, we have discovered Europe’s largest deposits of rare earth metals necessary for the production of batteries, electric motors and wind turbines, the Swedish state-owned mining company LKAB announced on Thursday.

– This is great news not only for us, the region and the Swedes, but also for Europe and the climate – stressed the president of LKAB Jan Mostroem at a press conference at the iron ore mine in Kiruna.

Deposits necessary for the energy revolution

According to Mostroem, deposits of rare earth metals, i.e. a group of 17 elements (including cerium, lanthanum and neodymium) are located in the area called Per Geijer. Their occurrence in the vicinity of Kiruna has been known for two years, but only now the size of the find has been estimated. On the small part that has been explored so far, it is about a million tons.

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Iron ore and phosphorus have also been discovered in the Per Geijer area.

According to LKAB, there is no mining of rare earth metals in Europe, and the elements necessary for the energy transition are currently imported from China. – The availability of these elements is crucial for Europe. China may no longer want to supply raw materials, but only, for example, ready-made electric cars, Mostroem noted.

It is no coincidence that the Swedish mining company organized the conference on Thursday, when the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen pays a visit to Kiruna in connection with the six-month presidency that began in January Sweden in the Council of the European Union. According to the media, in March the EC will present a plan to secure access to critical raw materials, and LKAB is lobbying for legal facilitations in launching the extraction of rare earth metals.

LKAB admitted that if nothing changes, it may take 10-15 years before large-scale mining starts. – The challenge is to obtain the necessary permits. There are many interests that could be affected, such as reindeer herding, Natura 2000 sites and the environmental impact of the mine, Mostroem stressed.

Decisive factors

In his opinion, other factors determining the launch of exploitation of deposits are “the market and the level of prices”. – Mining must be profitable, but I already have the necessary infrastructure, because we have been acquiring iron ore in Kiruna for years – he noted.

Ebba Busch (Christian Democrats), Minister of Entrepreneurship and Energy, who was present at the conference, promised support for LKAB’s plans to extract rare earth metals. The co-governing party of Sweden with the Social Democrats in 2014-21, the Environmental Protection Party – The Greens, hindered the development of mining in this country.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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