Sweden discovers Europe’s largest rare earth mineral deposit

President and CEO of Swedish mining company LKAB Jan Mostrom and Sweden's energy minister Ebba Busch attend a news conference at LKAB in Kiruna, Sweden, about the discovery  (TT News Agency / Jonas Ekstromer via Reuters)
President and CEO of Swedish mining company LKAB Jan Mostrom and Sweden's energy minister Ebba Busch attend a news conference at LKAB in Kiruna, Sweden, about the discovery (TT News Agency / Jonas Ekstromer via Reuters)

Sweden’s state-owned mining company, LKAB, has announced that it has located more than one million tonnes of rare earth minerals in the northern parts of the Swedish city, Kiruna.

It revealed that the deposit was found next to its iron-ore mine and it’s the largest cache of rare earth oxides discovered in Europe.

The news was welcomed with immense joy across the EU as countless countries have been searching for sources other than China for these crucial materials.

These valuable yet rare minerals are used for a number of high-tech manufacturing processes, including in the manufacture of electric vehicles, wind turbines, portable electronics, microphones, and speakers. It is also crucial for everything from batteries in EV cars to magnets in AirPods.

As countries try to make their energy resources cleaner and make more environmentally responsible decisions, the reliance on materials like these is increasing.

That, compounded with the current global energy crisis and countries’ dependence on other nations’ resources, which can be exploited politically, makes this a very significant discovery.

Talking about it, LKAB’s CEO Jan Mostrom said: “This is good news, not only for LKAB, the region, and the Swedish people but also for Europe and the climate.

“It could become a significant building block for producing the critical raw materials that are absolutely crucial to enable the green transition.”

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

The mining of the deposit is expected to take 10 to 15 years. LKAB explained they are submitting an application for an exploitation concession.

The process of approving new mines in Sweden is lengthy and demanding, as the government considers mining’s impact on biodiversity and water resources before it gives permission.

Sweden currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union and is an active member when it comes to making the continent more self-sufficient.