The discovery comes at the right time. While Europe is worried about its dependence on rare earths, in particular vis-à-vis China since the Covid crisis, now “the largest known deposit” in Europe has just been identified in the region. of Kiruna, in the Far North of Sweden, by the Swedish mining group LKAB. More than a million tons of metals of metals would be buried in the frozen ground of the arctic lands.
“This is the largest known deposit of rare earth elements in our part of the world, and it could become an important building block for the production of the critical raw materials absolutely crucial for the green transition”, welcomed the CEO of the public group LKAB, Jan Moström, in a press release. Rare earths are used in particular to manufacture the batteries of electric vehicles and the turbines of wind turbines.
No exploitation before “10 to 15 years”
“We are facing a supply problem. Without mines, there can be no electric vehicles,” argues Jan Moström. According to preliminary estimates, the Kiruna deposit, a major mining region in the Scandinavian country, contains more “one million tonnes of rare earth oxides”, but the company emphasizes that it has not yet quantified its exact magnitude. “A long way” remains to be traveled before being put into operation, warned LKAB.
“We anticipate that it will take several years to study the deposit and the conditions for profitable and sustainable exploitation,” said Jan Moström. Asked during a press conference about the expected date of the first pickaxes, he replied that it would largely depend on the speed of obtaining the exploitation permits, specifying that experience showed that it would probably take “between 10 and 15 years old.
“The electrification, self-sufficiency and independence of the EU vis-à-vis Russia and China will start in the mine,” said the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy. and Swedish Energy, Ebba Busch. This announcement was made on the occasion of a visit by a delegation from the European Commission to Sweden, which has occupied the rotating president of the EU since the beginning of the year. Among its efforts to curb global warming, Brussels announced last year the end of sales of new gasoline and diesel cars from 2035.