Sweden site of Europe’s largest deposit of rare earth metals

Swedish government owned mining company LKAB says that it has identified “significant deposits” of rare earth elements near the town of Kiruna in northern Sweden.

According to the company, the resources exceed one million tonnes of rare earth oxides, making it the largest known deposit of its kind in Europe. 

“This is good news, not only for LKAB, the region and the Swedish people, but also for Europe and the climate,” said Jan Moström, president and group CEO of LKAB. “This is the largest known deposit of rare earth elements in our part of the world, and it could become a significant building block for producing the critical raw materials that are absolutely crucial to enable the green transition.”

Currently, Europe relies solely on imports of rare earth metals, which are used to make batteries for electric vehicles. Globally, China completely dominates the market, a factor which increases the vulnerability of European industry, LKAB said.

“Electrification, the EU’s self-sufficiency and independence from Russia and China will begin in the mine,” said Ebba Busch, Swedish minister for energy, business and industry. “We need to strengthen industrial value chains in Europe and create real opportunities for the electrification of our societies.”

LKAB next plans to investigate the deposit further to confirm its suitability for mining.

“We are already investing heavily to move forward, and we expect that it will take several years to investigate the deposit and the conditions for profitably and sustainably mining it,” said Moström. “If we look at how other permit processes have worked within our industry, it will be at least 10-15 years before we can actually begin mining and deliver raw materials to the market.”