Swedish mining company LKAB said the newly-explored deposit, found right next to an iron ore mine, contained more than one million tonnes of rare earth oxides.
This discovery is important at a time when Europe is worried about its dependence, especially on China, the world’s largest producer, for the supply of these ores, which are mainly used to make batteries for electric vehicles and wind turbines.
“This is the largest known deposit of rare earth elements in our part of the world, and it could become a significant building block for producing the critical raw materials that are absolutely crucial to enable the green transition,” LKAB’s chief executive Jan Moström said in a statement.
“We face a supply problem. Without mines, there can be no electric vehicles,” Moström added.
In 2021, the European Commission said that 98 percent of the rare earths used in the EU were imported from China, prompting Brussels to urge member states to develop their own extraction capacities.
“Today, the EU is way too dependent on other countries for these materials,” Swedish Energy Minister Ebba Busch told a press conference, pointing specifically to Russia and China.
The announcement was made on the occasion of the visit of a delegation of the European Commission to Sweden, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU since the beginning of the year.
As part of its efforts to tackle climate change, Brussels last year legislated the end of sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles from 2035.