Sweden finds the largest rare earth deposit in Europe. It - CNN
Sweden’s rare earths discovery won’t end EU’s China reliance — yetThe discovery of Europe’s largest known deposit of rare earth elements in northern Sweden was hailed last week as a win for the bloc’s green transition that could help curb the EU's reliance on China for critical raw materials. But significant hurdles — from boosting refining capacity to red tape to dealing with angry reindeer herders — stand in the way of the find being turned into a going concern. China currently provides nearly 98 percent of the EU’s supply of the rare earth minerals it needs to build green transition technologies. Russia is also a key supplier of metals like palladium, titanium, platinum and aluminum. The announcement by Swedish mining company LKAB that it found a deposit of more than 1 million tons of rare earth oxides was seen as a key step in helping the bloc diversify its supply.
"The EU's self-sufficiency and independence from Russia and China will begin in the mine, " Sweden’s Energy, Business and Industry Minister Ebba Busch said following Thursday's announcement. But Europe can't mine its way out of reliance on China without also ramping up its refining and production capacity, said Marie Le Mouel, an affiliate fellow at the Bruegel think tank.
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“There's more of a dependency on Chinese manufacturing than on the actual materials that go into these components, ” Le Mouel said, adding that she expects “large parts” of the mined Swedish deposit to end up being exported outside the EU for refining. China accounts for 85 percent of rare earth processing worldwide. About 98 percent of the EU's rare earth permanent magnets — used in things like electric motors of battery-powered cars — are imported from China. There are “many, many intermediate steps between these raw materials and the installation of green technologies, ” said Le Mouel, cautioning against claims that the Swedish discovery is "good news for Europe's autonomy. " But LKAB's President and CEO Jan Moström insists that his company's recent investment in Norwegian-based rare earths manufacturer REEte will create “the base for a strong and sustainable Nordic value chain for rare earth metals.
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