A mining company in Sweden announced that they have detected “significant” rare earths reserves in the Lapland region in the north of the country.
Swedish public mining company LKAB said on Thursday that deposits of raw materials critical to the production of electric vehicles, wind turbines and other high-tech products could reduce Europe’s dependence on China.
The company, which extracts iron ore in Kiruna, 960 kilometers north of the capital Stockholm, announced that they have found more than 1 million tons of rare earth oxides.
“This is the largest known deposit of rare earths in Europe. It could become an important building block in the production of critical raw materials that are absolutely crucial to ensuring the green transition. Without these mines, electric vehicles cannot exist,” said LKAB CEO Jan Moström.
Europe mostly meets its need for rare earth elements from China.
“Electrification, EU self-sufficiency and independence from Russia and China will begin at the mine,” said Ebba Busch, Sweden’s Minister for Energy and Business.
LKAB, which is also the largest iron ore producer in Europe, stated that the discovered deposits could be the continent’s most important raw material source, but that they could become operational in 10-15 years.
The European Commission considers rare earth elements among the most critical resources for the region.
Most of the global rare earths reserves are located in China.
What are rare earth elements, in which areas are they used?
There are a total of 17 elements called the rare earth element.
They are generally found in small reserves under the ground. However, what makes rare earths ‘rare’ is not the scarcity of reserves, but the high cost of processing them.
These elements are an essential part of manufacturing processes in a wide range of areas, from smartphones to computers, from elevators and trains to high-tech warplanes and satellites.
They are especially critical in the field of green energy, wind turbines and electric vehicle engines.
In which countries are the reserves?
The rare earths reserves in the world are estimated to be 115.8 million tons in total.
The largest reserves are in the following countries:
- China: 44 million tons
- Vietnam: 22 million tons
- Brazil: 22 million tons
- Russia: 21 million tons
- India: 6.9 million tons
- Australia: 4 million tons
- USA: 1.8 million tons
- Greenland: 1.5 million tons