It was just last month that a study from a German think tank found that the EU is heavily reliant on foreign states for dozens of raw materials vital for manufacturing.
In December Gript reported how the EU sources many of these “rare earth minerals” which are essential to modern economies from outside of the bloc, relying on “less democratic” countries like China and Russia.
— gript (@griptmedia) December 16, 2022
Just one month later, however, that problem may have become much smaller, following a new discovery by Sweden’s state-owned mining company LKAB.
In the northern Swedish region of Kiruna, the company says it has found over 1 million tonnes of rare earth oxides – the largest known deposit every found in Europe.
These minerals are essential in many modern industries, particularly in technologies such as electric vehicles, wind turbines, phones, and computers.
“Electrification, the EU’s self-sufficiency and independence from Russia and China will begin in the mine,” said Sweden’s Minister for Energy, Business and Industry, Ebba Busch.
In addition, LKAB CEO Jan Mostrom said that the discovery was good not only for Sweden and the local region, “but also for Europe.”
While the discovery is a significant one, LKAB says that it may take some time to take advantage of the development.
While the firm plans to apply for permission to exploit the resources this year, it may be at least 10 or 15 years before it will be possible to mine and ship the resources in question. Much of the delay will be due to environmental reviews, ensuring that there is no damage done to water resources and biodiversity in the area.
Before this discovery, it was known that Europe already has sources of magnesium and lithium domestically which could potentially be tapped into if mining permits were granted.