AP

China note! EU-member Sweden locates rare earth deposits

Jan 11, 2023, 2:50 PM | Updated: Jan 12, 2023, 9:10 am

Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, left and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, spe...

Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, left and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, speak as they arrive for a dinner at the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjarvi, Sweden, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023. (Jonas Ekstromer/TT News Agency via AP)

(Jonas Ekstromer/TT News Agency via AP)

KIRUNA, Sweden (AP) — The beginning of the end of Europe’s dependency on China for precious rare earth materials may lie buried deep under the rugged reaches of northern Sweden, well above the Arctic Circle.

Sweden’s iron-ore miner LKAB said Thursday it has identified “significant deposits” in Lapland of rare earth elements that are essential for the manufacture of smartphones, electric vehicles and wind turbines.

The government-owned company that mines iron ore at Kiruna, almost 1,000 kilometers (nearly 600 miles) north of Stockholm, said there are more than 1 million tons of rare earth oxides.

According to LKAB, it’s the largest known deposit of its kind in Europe. But the company warned that it could take at least a decade before mining starts.

Swedish Industry Minister Ebba Busch called Sweden “a gold mine” following the discovery. Her announcement came as the European Union’s executive, the European Commission, puts the finishing touches to a proposal for its Critical Raw Materials Act that should help developing reliable and solid supply chains.

Rare earths now reach into the lives of almost everyone on the planet, turning up in everything from hard drives to elevators and trains. They are especially vital to the fast-growing field of green energy, feeding wind turbines and electric car engines.

But the EU is lagging well behind competitors on the market, getting around 98% of its rare earth minerals from China, with none of them mined in Europe.

And according to the European Commission, the demand will increase fivefold by 2030 because of the digital and green transition of the bloc’s economy.

Internal market commissioner Thierry Breton has warned that the EU’s ambition to become the first climate neutral continent is at risk without a secure and sustainable access to raw materials.

“Our twin green and digital transition will live or die through the functioning of our supply chains,” he said. “Take China, with its quasi-monopoly on rare earths and permanent magnets and prices rising by 50-90% in the past year alone. Supply of raw materials has become a real geopolitical tool.”

The EU is also eager to learn from the past and reduce one-sided dependencies like the one it developed on Russia for oil and gas, only starting to cut ties recently after the war in Ukraine started with Moscow’s full-scale invasion on Feb. 24.

“This must change,” said Busch, as European commissioners traveled to Kiruna to mark the start of Sweden’s six-month rotating EU presidency. “In the short run, we need to diversify our trade, but in the long run we can’t rely on trade agreements only. Electrification, the EU’s self-sufficiency and independence from Russia and China will begin in the mine.”

LKAB — which also develops carbon-free iron ore projects — said the deposits of rare earth were found close to the world’s largest underground iron ore mine it runs in Kiruna. Exploration won’t start for years even if permits are delivered very fast.

“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,” LKAB CEO Jan Moström said. “We must change the permit processes to ensure increased mining of this type of raw material in Europe.”

___

Jan M. Olsen contributed to this story from Copenhagen, Denmark.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

jerry west...

Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press

Jerry West, a 3-time Hall of Fame selection and the NBA logo, dies at 86

Jerry West, a three-time Basketball Hall of Fame inductee whose silhouette is considered to be the basis of the NBA logo, died Wednesday morning.

11 hours ago

Photo: Construction vehicles are parked outside of the Station U & O building on Tuesday, June 11, ...

Haleluya Hadero, The Associated Press

Amazon adds $1.4B to affordable housing fund for regions where it has corporate offices

Amazon is adding $1.4B to a fund for building more affordable housing in regions where the company has major corporate offices.

1 day ago

hunter biden...

Randall Chase and the Associated Press

Hunter Biden convicted of all 3 felony charges in federal gun trial

Hunter Biden has been convicted of all three felony charges related to the purchase of a revolver in 2018, but no sentencing date was set.

1 day ago

Photo: A Bremerton man who made 20 "swatting" calls around the U.S. and in Canada, prompting real e...

Associated Press

Bremerton man sentenced for 20 ‘swatting’ calls of false threats in US, Canada

A Bremerton man who made 20 "swatting" calls around the U.S. and in Canada, prompting real emergency responses, has been sentenced.

2 days ago

Image: U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, left, speaks with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zele...

Associated Press

Ukraine uses US weapons to strike inside Russia, a Western official tells AP

Ukraine has used U.S weapons to strike inside Russia in recent days, according to a Western official familiar with the matter told the AP.

7 days ago

boeing nasa...

Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press

Boeing launches NASA astronauts for the first time after years of delays

Boeing launched astronauts for the first time Wednesday, belatedly joining SpaceX as a second taxi service for NASA.

7 days ago

China note! EU-member Sweden locates rare earth deposits