8.8 million tonnes of rare earths: a mining group claims to have discovered the largest deposit in Europe in Norway

8.8 million tonnes of rare earths: a mining group claims to have discovered the largest deposit in Europe in Norway

The Fensfeltet deposit, in Norway, is believed to contain 8.8 million tonnes of metals essential to the green transition (illustrative photo). Mikita Karasiou – UNSPLASH

A Norwegian mining group announced, this Thursday, June 6, 2024, with new supporting expertise, that a rare earth deposit in southeastern Norway was the largest in Europe , promise of autonomy for a continent keen to reduce its dependence on China.

According to Rare Earths Norway, the Fensfeltet deposit contains 8.8 million tonnes of these metals essential to the green transition, significantly more than that of Kiruna in Sweden supposed to contain between 1 and 2 million tonnes.

"After three years of intensive drilling and testing, […] a first mineral resource estimate [& ;hellip;] shows that Fensfeltet is the largest deposit of rare earth elements (REE) in Europe", indicates the group in a press release.

Permanent magnets

The estimates, carried out with the support of the Canadian consulting company WSP, notably show the presence on site of 1.5 million tonnes of permanent magnets, magnetic materials used, among other things, in electric cars and wind turbines.

Mining could begin in 2030 with an investment of 10 billion crowns (867 million euros) for the first phase alone, according to Rare Earths Norway .

"The goal of Rare Earths Norway is to contribute to a total and compact value chain, from mine to magnet, with significantly reduced climate and environmental impact", said its managing director, Alf Reistad.

Rare metals

Scalded by its energy dependence on Russia before the start of the war in Ukraine, the European Union (EU), of which Norway is not a part, but with which it maintains close ties , is today seeking to emancipate itself in the field of rare metals.

Currently, 98% of rare earths used in the EU are imported from China, which therefore has a virtual monopoly in the sector.

In January 2023, the Swedish mining group announced the discovery in Kiruna, in the north of Sweden, of the "largest known deposit&quot ; of rare earths from Europe. No rare earth mine is currently in operation on the continent.

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