STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Swedish mining group LKAB said on Thursday it had identified mineral resources worth more than a million tonnes of rare earths in the Kiruna region, the largest known deposit of its kind in Europe.
Rare earths, essential to many high-tech elements, are used in the manufacture of electric vehicles, wind turbines, portable electronic devices, and even microphones and loudspeakers.
“This is good news, not only for LKAB, the region and the people of Sweden, but also for Europe and the climate,” LKAB chief executive Jan Mostrom said in a statement. “It (the deposit) could become an important element for the production of the essential raw materials which are absolutely crucial to enable the green transition.”
Rare earth elements are currently not mined in Europe, making the region dependent on imports, while demand is expected to increase in the coming years with the rise of electric vehicles and renewable energy.
“Electrification, EU self-sufficiency and independence from Russia and China will start in the mine,” the Minister for Energy, Trade and Energy said in the statement. ‘Industry, Ebba Busch.
Sweden currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union.
The European Commission considers rare earths as one of the most critical resources for the region. The vast majority of these resources are currently mined in China.
However, there is a long way to go to exploit the deposit in Sweden.
LKAB said it wants to submit a mining application in 2023, adding that it would take at least 10 to 15 years before it could start mining the deposit and ship it to market.
(Report Johan Ahlander and Niklas Pollard; French version Dagmarah Mackos, edited by Kate Entringer)