Sweden's state-owned mining company LKAB announced this week that they discovered Europe's largest deposit of rare earth metals near their Kiruna mine. Estimates suggest the deposit could contain over a million tons of the metals, which are essential for the production of electronics, electric vehicles and wind turbines.
China currently controls roughly 60% of the world's mining production and 85% of the processing of rare earth metals, leading China to threaten to cut off its rare metal exports to the U.S. in 2019. In response, Former President Trump issued an executive order to boost domestic production and President Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to spur discovery and mining of the minerals.
The discovery could provide a significant boost in the production of electric vehicles and other green energy technology, but it could take nearly 10 to 15 years before the metals could ever make their way to market. Sweden's Deputy Prime Minister Ebba Busch said the discovery was a chance for Europe to become “self-sufficient and independent from Russia and China.”
The discovery of rare earth metals in Europe is a promising development for those looking to reduce their reliance on China for the metals. However, the long timeline to extraction and potential market entry means it will likely be some time before the deposit's full potential is realized.