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Europe’s largest deposit of rare earth metals discovered in the Kiruna area

Rare earth elements are essential for several key applications, such as electrification of vehicles and wind turbines.

The Swedish state-owned LKAB has identified significant deposits of these metals and last Thursday January 12 reported mineral resources of rare earth metals exceeding one million tonnes of rare earth oxides, the largest known deposit of its kind in Europe. No rare earth elements are currently mined in Europe.

According to LKAB, proper authorization - including environmental - and further investmentes - more drilling campaings - will be necessary before they can actually begin mining and deliver raw materials to the market. This may take at least 10-15 years.

As seen at the image below, cross-section at left, the deposit Per Geijer is close to existing operations of Kiruna iron ore mine. The rare earth elements in Per Geijer occur together with phosphorus in the mineral apatite, in what is mainly an iron ore deposit and which may therefore be produced as by-products.

Click at the image below to see a quick video by Euronews about this discovery showing how the deposits are underground. And here for a very complete press release by LKAB, full of materials and other videos.

Concluding on a personal note. In 1987, together with other graduates of Mining Engineering from Escola Politécnica of University of São Paulo, Brazil, we visited several mines in Sweden, Finland and Germany. Including Kiruna from LKAB, the largest and most modern underground iron ore mine in the world, in operation since 1898. We got there by train, 145 kilometres, north of the Arctic circle. As Brazilians, used to huge open pit iron ore mines, it caught our attention the fact that Kiruna was an underground iron ore mine. Then one realizes the difference between a mine and an occurence: if there is economic value to build all the infrastructure to exploit the reserves, for decades, then it is a mine. So, in spite of higher costs at Kiruna, its proximity to the consumer market (European steel), it has been viable to export this production through the Norwegian harbour of Narvik, further north, closer to the Artic.

And now, rare earths are found. And the infrastructure is already there. As the market. Lucky. Strategicaly lucky.

Click here to read more about the story of Kiruna mine.


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“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”

“I am among those who think that science has great beauty”

Madame Marie Curie (1867 - 1934) Chemist & physicist. French, born Polish.

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