The largest rare-earth metal discovery in European history has raised hopes of a counter to China’s dominance in the field.
Swedish mining company LKAB says it has discovered more than 1 million tonnes of the rare resource used to make smartphones, electric cars, wind turbines and speakers in the country’s Arctic region.
EU leaders hope the discovery will counter the dominance of China and Russia in mining rare earth metals.
Europe has yet to mine rare earth elements, making the continent dependent on imports from elsewhere.
Demand for electric vehicles and renewable energy products is expected to increase in the coming years owing to surging demand for them.
LKAB CEO Jan Mostrom said: “This is great news, not only for LKAB, the region and the people of Sweden, but also for Europe and the climate.
“It could become an important component in the production of key raw materials that are critical to enabling the green transition.”
“Independence will begin in the mines”
The vast majority of rare earth minerals are currently mined in China, where many of the world’s most popular electronics are manufactured.
“Electrification, EU self-sufficiency and independence from Russia and China will start at the mines,” said Swedish Energy Minister Ebba Busch.
However, LKAB said it would be at least 10 to 15 years before it could start mining deposits and shipping them to market.