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Europe’s largest deposit of rare earth elements discovered in Sweden

While mining for iron ore, a Swedish company came across the largest deposit of rare earth elements ever found in Europe. It could offer a huge boost to the continent’s green sector in the future.

When Swedish iron ore miners from LKAB went to work this week, they might have thought they had just another series of ordinary days ahead.

But they would soon find this was not the case. It was announced on Thursday that the company had discovered Europe’s largest deposit of rare earth elements located right next to one of its key sites of interest.

It was an unexpected finding during the iron ore mining project in Arctic Sweden, which uncovered a store of more than 1 million tons of rare earth oxides such as praseodymium or neodymium oxides.

This is especially exciting news, as these materials are used to make wind turbines and essential magnets for electric cars. Rare earth oxides also make up key components of electronic devices, microphones, and audio speakers.

As nations continue to expand green projects locally and across continents, these newly discovered deposits could offer a boost in the transition to clean energy for all of Europe.

At present, many countries are reliant on international trade and imports to obtain rare earth minerals. China in particular has a huge monopoly on the sector, thanks to abundant stores of these types of elements in its environment.

The demand for these minerals is extremely high, and at least 98 percent of the EUs supply of rare earth magnets for electronics and electric car production is sourced from China’s supply.

On that note, the deposit found by LKAB in Arctic Sweden is relatively small compared to element deposits in other areas of the world. According to the US Geological Survey, it represents less than one percent of the 120 million tons found elsewhere.

Experts warn that we shouldn’t expect an immediate or rapid increase in green energy sectors in Europe as a result of the discovery, either.

Mining companies are not expected to start extracting these earth minerals straight away. They also note that exploration of the Swedish site will more than likely begin years from now, even in the case that permits to do so are approved quickly.

Providing a timeline, representatives at LKAB estimate it would take around 10 to 15 years before the materials hit the market.

Still, it’s an exciting prospect that could change the nature of trade relationships with China – one that allows European nations to be more self-reliant in the future.

 

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