A trillion treasure at the bottom of the ocean

The US is on the sidelines in the race for metals that lie on the bottom of the ocean


Kiruna, Sweden — Iron ore miner LKAB said Thursday it has discovered “significant deposits” of rare earth elements in Arctic Sweden, which are needed to make electric cars and wind turbines. Sweden’s state-owned mining company, which mines iron ore in Kiruna, nearly 600 miles north of Stockholm, said it has more than 1 million tons of rare earth oxides.

“This is the largest known deposit of rare earth elements in our part of the world, and it has the potential to be a significant building block for the production of critical raw materials that are absolutely essential to the green transition,” said LKAB CEO Jan Mastrom. “Without mines, there can be no electric cars.”

Swedish mining company LKAB’s president and CEO Jan Mostram (left) and Sweden’s Minister of Energy, Business and Industry Ebba Busch at a press conference at LKAB in Kiruna, Sweden, on January 12, 2023.

JONAS EKSTROMER / TT News Agency / AFP / Getty

Sweden’s Minister of Energy and Business, Ebba Busch, said that “the EU’s electrification, self-sufficiency and independence from Russia and China will start in the mine.”

“We need to strengthen industrial value chains in Europe and create real opportunities to electrify our societies. Policy must enable industry to transition to environmentally safe, fossil-free production,” she added.

Rare metals used in most technology products could be cut off from the US in a trade war with China


Rare earth elements have entered the lives of nearly every person on the planet, appearing in everything from hard drives and cell phones to elevators and trains. They are especially important for the fast-growing green energy industry, which is powered by wind turbines and electric car engines.

Exploration won’t start for years, even if permits are issued very quickly.

A view of the Swedish state-owned mining company LKAB’s iron mine in Sweden’s northernmost Arctic city of Kiruna on January 12, 2023.

JONAS EKSTROMER / TT News Agency / AFP / Getty


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