Europe's largest deposit of rare earth metals discovered in Norway

By Jurassic JennJun 13, 2024 12:38 PMScience
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8.8 million metric tons of rare metals found in Norway
8.8 million metric tons of rare metals found in Norway. Source: www.yahoo.com

A significant breakthrough has occurred in Norway, as mining company Rare Earths Norway announces the discovery of Europe's largest confirmed deposit of highly sought-after rare earth elements. The finding could be a game-changer for both Norway and the wider region. This was reported by SSPDaily.

Notably, this deposit is one of the few not owned or controlled by China, which marks a significant milestone in Europe's efforts to challenge China's dominance in the rare earths market.

With the rapid acceleration of the clean energy transition, the demand for rare earths and critical minerals is expected to surge in the coming years. On June 6, Rare Earths Norway stated that the Fen Carbonatite Complex, located in southeastern Norway, contains an impressive 8.8 million metric tons of total rare earth oxides (TREOs), with a viable potential for economic extraction.

Within these TREOs, which are crucial for the global shift toward clean energy, there is an estimated 1.5 million metric tons of magnetic rare earths that can be effectively utilized in electric vehicles and wind turbines.

The significance of this discovery overtakes the discovery of a massive rare earths deposit made last year in neighboring Sweden.

Alf Reistad, CEO of Rare Earths Norway, emphasized the importance of the Fen discovery, stating that it represents a significant milestone for the company. Notably, Europe currently lacks any extraction of rare earth elements, making this development even more critical.

With the aim of addressing this supply gap, the Critical Raw Materials Act hopes to yield at least 10% of the EU's annual rare earths demand from European sources by 2030. Rare Earths Norway aspires to contribute to achieving this goal.

The promising rare earths deposit in Telemark, approximately 130 miles southwest of Oslo, is poised to solidify Norway's position as an integral player in Europe's rare earths and critical raw materials value chain.

According to the International Energy Agency, the current supply of rare earths falls short of the requirements to ensure a successful transformation of the energy sector. This shortfall is due to the geographical concentration of energy transition element production.

China currently dominates the rare earths market, accounting for 70% of global rare earth ore extraction and 90% of rare earth ore processing. Europe relies heavily on China, with the East Asian nation being the largest supplier of rare earth elements, responsible for 40% of the EU's overall imports of these minerals based on weight in 2022.

Moving forward, Rare Earths Norway plans to continue exploration work at the complex, scheduled for further drilling in the coming month. The company aims to commence mining operations by 2030, with the development of the initial stage underway.

When asked if the newfound resources could be considered more valuable than Norway's oil and gas reserves, Alf Reistad responded that although they will become more important, they won't hold the same value. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has already stressed the growing importance of lithium and rare earth elements in the near future, surpassing the significance of oil and gas resources.

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