Norway: Europe’s largest rare earth deposit discovered

Mining company Rare Earths Norway has announced the discovery of the largest proven deposit of rare earths In Europe, this could potentially be a critical development for both Norway and the wider region.

It will be one of the few large deposits not owned or controlled by China, and Europe’s largest rare earth deposit, which is expected to play a key role in Europe’s bid to break China’s rare earth dominance.

The discovery overshadows a giant rare earth deposit discovered last year in neighboring Sweden.

Demand for rare earths and critical minerals is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years as the clean energy transition accelerates.

Rare Earths Norway announced on June 6 that the estimated mineral resources in the Fen Carbonatite region in the southeast of the country indicate a total of 8.8 million metric tons of rare earth oxides (TREO) with a reasonable prospect for economic extraction.

As for TREOs, which are vital to the global transition from fossil fuels to clean energy, the company says there are about 1.5 million metric tons of rare earth elements that could be used in electric vehicles and wind turbines.

The discovery overshadows a giant rare earth deposit discovered last year in neighboring Sweden.

Alf Reistad, CEO of Rare Earths Norway, told CNBC that the discovery at Fen is a “big milestone” for the company.

“It’s important to state that there is no rare earth mining in Europe today,” Reistad said during a conference call on Monday.

One of the goals of the Critical Raw Materials Act is to export at least 10% of the EU’s annual demand for rare earths by 2030, and Rare Earth Norway hopes to contribute to this goal.

Rare Earths Norway believes that the rare earth deposit in Telemark, about 210 kilometers (130 miles) southwest of Oslo, will strengthen Norway’s position as an integral part of Europe’s rare earths and critical raw materials value chain.

Rare earths ‘more important’ than oil and gas

The International Energy Agency noted that today’s supply falls short of what is needed to transform the energy sector. This is due to the relatively high geographical concentration of the production of many power transition components.

Most rare earth elements are found in China, the world’s second largest economy, which accounts for 70% of global rare earth ore production and 90% of rare earth ore processing.

China was the EU’s largest rare earth import partner in 2022, accounting for 40% of total imports by weight.

Rare Earths Norway also announced that exploration will continue in a wider area and that additional drilling is planned for the next month. The company also added that it is working to develop the first mining phase by 2030.

When asked if he thought the discovered reserves could be considered more valuable than Norway’s oil and gas reserves, Reistad of Rare Earths Norway replied: “They are not more valuable, but (European Commission President) Ursula von der Leyen said that lithium and rare earths will soon become oil. and will be more important than gas.

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