Swedish iron ore miner LKAB announced Thursday that it had discovered Europe’s largest deposit of rare earth elements, which are essential for making electric cars and wind turbines.
The discovery could have major implications for the European Union’s clean energy transition, boosting its hopes of becoming less dependent on China.
State-owned LKAB said the deposit was discovered right next to its iron ore mine in Kiruna, far north in Arctic Sweden, and that it contained more than 1 million tonnes of rare earth oxides.
While it's believed to be the biggest in Europe, the site remains small on a global scale, representing less than one per cent of the 120 million tonnes estimated worldwide by the US Geological Survey.
It contains praseodymium or neodymium oxides, materials which are used to produce the special magnets used in electric vehicles.
However, exploration of the site will not start for years, even if permits are delivered very fast.