Swedish Mining Company Discovers Largest Deposit of Rare Earth Minerals in Europe

Rare Earth
Rare Earth
Courtesy of Dikke Diesel (Wikimedia CC0)

Sweden’s state-owned mining corporation, Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara Aktiebolag (LKAB), announced on Thursday that they had discovered 1 million tones of rare earth metal deposits in the northern region of the country, near the city of Kiruna. The newly found deposit is the largest of its kind on the European continent.

Mining For the Future

These minerals, which include the likes of lithium, cobalt and graphite, are vital for the production of batteries, computer chips, and other components used in the electronic devices that have shaped our world in recent decades.

Sweden
Courtesy of Rob Hodgkins (Flickr CC0)

Personal devices like smartphones, laptops, and tablets, as well as green technologies like wind turbines and electric vehicles, require these rare earth metals that currently can only be sourced from adversarial powers like China, or from mines in developing countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where miners suffer horrific conditions and abuses.

The need to source these materials is ever-growing as computer technologies take over the globe. This new deposit will give Europe and the West a reliable, abuse-free alternative to these less than savory sources.

International Ramifications

This discovery is especially significant as Sweden closes in on its bid for NATO membership. Sweden and Finland both moved to join the alliance in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Rare earth minerals are also required for military technologies like drones, guided missiles, and missile defense systems. In a theoretical world war scenario where China and Russia would align against NATO, they could easily cut off the supply of these materials to the U.S. and its allies.

“Electrification, the EU’s self-sufficiency and independence from Russia and China will begin in the mine,” said Ebba Busch, Sweden’s Minister for Energy, Business and Industry.

As of today, Sweden and Europe in general lack the manufacturing capabilities and supply chains required to process these materials and make them usable. However, that is expected to change soon following this discovery. Still, experts say it will probably take 10-15 years before LKAB can extract these materials and ship them to market.

 

Written by Seth Herlinger

Sources:

Financial Times: Sweden discovers biggest rare earths deposit in EU

The Jerusalem Post: Sweden optimistic about NATO talks with Turkey

Reuters: Sweden’s LKAB finds Europe’s biggest deposit of rare earth metals

 

Top and featured image by Dikke Diesel, courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License

Inset image courtesy of Rob Hodgkins‘ Flickr page – Creative Commons License

 

 

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