The Swedish state-owned mining company LKAB has identified significant deposits of rare earth elements in the Kiruna area, metals which are essential for, among other applications, the manufacture of electric vehicles and wind turbines. Learn more about Europe’s largest deposit of rare earth metal found in Sweden.
LKAB said it has identified more than 1 million tons of rare earth oxides in the Kiruna area in the far north of the country, the largest known such deposit in Europe.
The world’s production of rare earths is dominated by China. The discovery by LKAB creates the prospect that Europe could over time develop a domestic source of these minerals.
There is no large-scale mining of rare earths in the European Union, partly because of the difficulty of creating new mines and facilities to refine the metal ores.
“This is good news, not only for LKAB, the region and the Swedish people, but also for Europe and the climate. This is the largest known deposit of rare earth elements in our part of the world, and it could become a significant building block for producing the critical raw materials that are absolutely crucial to enable the green transition. We face a supply problem. Without mines, there can be no electric vehicles,” says Jan Moström, President and Group CEO, LKAB.
Rare earths, a group of 17 elements, are crucial to cutting-edge technologies used for electric vehicles and wind turbine generators. As more of these items are manufactured to tackle climate change and for other purposes, demand for the metals is soaring.
“Electrification, the EU’s self-sufficiency and independence from Russia and China will begin in the mine,” Minister for Energy, Business and Industry Ebba Busch said in the statement.
A long road to a mine
At the same time, the road to possible mining of the deposit is long, where the first step is an application for an exploitation concession for the Per Geijer deposit in order to be able to investigate it further at depth and investigate the conditions for mining. The plan is to be able to submit an application for an exploitation concession in 2023.
LKAB’s find, near Kiruna, Sweden’s northernmost city, indeed appeared to be of significant size, said Ross Embleton, an analyst at Wood Mackenzie, a consulting firm. But he added that unless European permitting procedures could be shortened in a way that was acceptable to responsible investors, the lode was unlikely to make a big difference to the global supply picture anytime soon.