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Rare Earths: A Promising Discovery for Europe

The Discovery of a Rare Earth Deposit in the Far North of Sweden has sparked enthusiasm among European leaders who seek to reduce their reliance on China in the field of ecological transition. China continues to dominate the global rare earth market, holding the largest reserves worldwide, as revealed in an infographic based on analysis by the US Geological Survey. For any acquisition of rare earths, sourcing from China is almost inevitable, with an estimated 44 million tons of rare earth oxides located in China's underground.

With a production share of 61%, China maintains a dominant position in the global market. Additionally, part of the Burmese production is also acquired and refined by China, according to an investigation by Global Witness published last August. In the context of the race for renewable energies, many countries in Europe now hope to break free from this dependence on China. Therefore, the announcement of the discovery of a one-million-ton deposit in the far north of Sweden on January 12, 2023, delighted European leaders.

However, it should be noted that environmental damage can be caused by the exploitation of these rare earths. The rare earths from the Per Geijer region near Kiruna are particularly crucial for the manufacturing of electric cars and wind turbines, as highlighted by Sveriges Television (SVT). This discovery of a rare earth deposit in Europe will play a key role in the continent's energy transition, said Ebba Busch, the Swedish Minister for Energy and Industry, during a press conference held in Kiruna, in the province of Lapland, north of the Arctic Circle. However, it will likely take between ten to fifteen years before fully exploiting this deposit. Several years will be needed to precisely assess the quantity of rare earths present and obtain the necessary permits for exploitation, all while considering the significant environmental risks associated with extracting these metals, as explained by the Finnish-Swedish newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet (HBL).

chemical symbol of rare earth



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