It’s a journey to the center of the rare earths discovered in Sweden

A major deposit of rare-earth metals critical for clean energy technologies has been discovered by Swedish company LKAB in its iron ore mine in Kiruna.

Discovery Details: The large deposit of rare-earth metals, named Per Geijer, was discovered mixed with iron ore in LKAB’s mine.
* The iron ore mine is one of the world’s largest, located 125 miles north of the Arctic Circle.
* Rare-earth metals are critical for the production of clean energy technologies, such as wind turbines and electric vehicles.
* The company has called this the largest-known deposit of rare-earth metals in Europe.

Implications for Energy Independence: The discovery arrives as many European countries, including Sweden, are seeking energy independence, in part by reducing reliance on China, which dominates the global supply of key metals and minerals, including rare earths.
* Sweden’s deputy prime minister, Ebba Busch, underscored the need for energy independence, pointing to the recent cut-off of energy supplies to Europe from Russia.
* Sweden, like most of the European Union, currently gets nearly all its rare-earth supply from China.

Concerns and Challenges: While the discovery is significant, challenges lie in the economic viability, environmental impact, and its effect in Sweden’s Indigenous lands.
* Reaching the Per Geijer deposit would entail drilling and blasting rocks, and it could take up to six to seven years before extraction begins.
* Environmental and Indigenous rights concerns have to be considered due to the impact of mining and processing on the environment, particularly in Sweden’s vast Indigenous lands.
* The Sami people, a major Indigenous group in Sweden, are worried about the environmental impact of mining. They argue that human activities related to mining will disturb the natural habitat of wildlife, particularly affecting reindeer herding.

View original article on NPR

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