Norway Finds Rare Earth Metals That Could Make Europe Less Dependent on China
Norway Finds Rare Earth Metals That Could Make Europe Less Dependent on China

By Ingolfur Stephansson

Norwegian scientists have made a discovery of rare earth metals in the country’s northern region. The findings have the potential to transform the country’s economy and secure its place as a major player in the global market for high-tech and green technology. Furthermore, the findings could make Europe less dependent on China for the critical metals.

Today, China is believed to account for more than 80 percent of many metals that are needed for green energy solutions, such as rare earth metals used in electric cars and wind turbines.

Karl Kristensen, a consultant for Bergfald Environmental Consultants, says that the green shift in economics will only multiply the world’s dependence on these materials. He warned that China has almost complete control of the market for rare earth metals in his lecture on the topic during the KÅKÅnomics economics festival in Stavanger, Norway, in October 2022.

The discovery in Norway was made during a routine survey of the region and was confirmed through extensive drilling and analysis. The deposits are believed to be among the largest of their kind in the world, and the potential for further discoveries in the area is significant.

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) was responsible for conducting the research that led to the find. “The NPD has built up expertise over many years, in part through a number of expeditions. We’ve mapped relevant areas, collected data, and taken large volumes of mineral samples,” said Kjersti Dahle, director, technology, analysis and coexistence at the NPD.

NPD’s research shows that there is a large area of the Norwegian continental shelf with significant mineral resources, particularly in the deep sea, where several of these minerals are concentrated. The Norwegian government and NPD are now working together to create the necessary framework for a sustainable and responsible exploration and utilization of these minerals. The focus is on ensuring the protection of the marine environment, preserving the diversity of marine life, and mitigating the impact of the mineral exploration and extraction activities.

The discovery of these minerals on the Norwegian continental shelf is seen as a major step forward in the country’s efforts to reduce its dependency on mineral imports and to become a leading player in the production of sustainable technologies. The NPD’s report will now be used as a basis for further research and exploration activities in the coming years.

“Of the metals found on the seabed in the study area, magnesium, niobium, cobalt, and rare earth minerals are found on the European Commission’s list of critical minerals,” the NPD said in its statement on the research.

Rare Earth Metal Supply Chain in the West

The Norwegian find is a result of the West rebuilding its supply chain for rare earth minerals. It follows an announcement from LKAB, a Swedish mining company, earlier in January 2023. LKAB announced the discovery of Europe’s largest deposit of rare earth oxides in the country’s far north. The discovery was described as positive for not only the company, the region, and Sweden, but also for Europe and the climate.

To reduce dependence on China, Western countries are investing in exploration, mining, and processing of these minerals. The United States, for example, is funding projects to extract rare earths from coal and phosphates and is also working on recycling technology to reduce the need for new minerals. Europe is making efforts to secure its own supply of rare earths and is funding research into new technology to extract and process these minerals. The rebuilding of the rare earths supply chain is a step in reducing dependence on China and ensuring a sustainable future for technology and green energy solutions.

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