Swedish state-owned miner LKAB has discovered, what it claims to be Europe’s largest known deposit of rare earth oxides, in the Per Geijer area near Kiruna.
The firm has identified mineral resources of more than one million tonnes of rare earth oxides, which are essential for the manufacture of electric vehicles and wind turbines, among other applications.
LKAB president and group CEO Jan Moström said: “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.”
Rare earth elements are currently not mined in Europe. This makes the region reliant on imports to meet demands, which are surging due to an increase in electric vehicles and renewable energy.
Sweden Minister for Energy, Business and Industry Ebba Busch said: “Electrification, the EU’s self-sufficiency and independence from Russia and China will begin in the mine.”
The firm intends to submit an application for an exploitation concession for the Per Geijer deposit in 2023.
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LKAB is currently preparing a drift at a 700m depth in the existing Kiruna mine. This is laid towards the new deposit to enable investigation of its depth.
Moström added: “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.”
Located close to existing operations in Kiruna, the Per Geijer deposit has the potential to become Europe’s most important mine for critical raw materials.