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Norway Discovers Massive Trove of Rare Earth Minerals

The new find could help Europe end its dependence on China, opting to mine and develop minerals domestically

Norwegian officials say the country is sitting on a massive trove of rare earth minerals large enough for commercial viability and could help to end Europe’s dependence on China.

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) has released a report showing substantial deposits of metals, including copper and zinc.

The report also shows considerable deposits of magnesium, titanium, lithium, vanadium, cobalt, niobium, hafnium, tungsten, and gallium — all of which appear on the European Commission’s list of critical raw materials.

“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,” Kjersti Dahle, Director, Technology, Analysis and Coexistence, said in an NPD statement. “In this resource assessment, we’ve estimated how much of the various minerals might be found on the seabed in the studied area. Going forward, we will continue to reinforce the source data and the way we evaluate these resources.”

Rare earth minerals are critical components of technology needed as the world leaders shift away from fossil fuels toward greener energy sources. Inside nearly every electric vehicle is a lithium-ion battery that relies on other minerals to power it. Rare earth minerals are also used in wind turbines, phone screens, hard drives, trains, and an array of military applications.

Europe’s entire supply of rare earth minerals are mined in other countries, and more than 90 percent of the continent’s rare earth mineral supplies come from China. According to The Business Research Company, the rare earth mineral market is expected to grow from $5.72 billion in 2021 to $9.65 billion in 2026.

“The volume of recoverable resources depends on technology and economy. It remains to be seen whether the areas will be opened, and whether production can be profitable from a financial standpoint,” Dahle added.

Norway’s discovery comes just weeks after a Swedish mining company discovered a large deposit of rare earth minerals.

“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.

Two European nations now having access to huge quantities of rare earth minerals means that the continent, at some point in the near future, may become less reliant on China, using domestic companies to harvest minerals needed to stockpile and use in new technologies.

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