Rare earths: a spectacular discovery in Norway

It could well be the “the biggest industrial adventure in the country”, according to Linda Thorstensen, head of the municipality of Ulefoss, a small town located in Telemark county, about a hundred kilometers from Oslo, in southeastern Norway.

Thursday June 6, the mining group Rare Earths Norway published a press release announcing that the rare earth deposit located on the territory of the municipality would contain some 8.8 million tonnes of rare earths, “these metals for which Europe so desperately wants to become self-sufficient: without them, it is not possible to produce wind turbines, mobile phones or future defense equipment”, recalls the channel’s website the channel NRK.

“After three years of intensive drilling and analysis, a first mineral resource estimate shows that Fensfeltet is the largest deposit of rare earth elements in Europe,” says Rare Earths Norway.

The Norwegian deposit in any case promises to be significantly more important than that of Kiruna, in Sweden, believed to contain between 1 and 2 million tonnes of rare earths. “We have known for a long time that Fensfeltet was promising. Now we are finally completely sure,” confirms Cecilie Myrseth, the Minister of Industry.

Start of operation planned for 2030

“The small town of Ulefoss could save the whole of Europe”, don’t hesitate to write NRK. Rare earth exports from Telemark could prove “more important for the continent than Norwegian gas exports are today”.

Which does not mean that operations will be able to begin before five years, tempers a geologist. “Most of the work remains to be done. Work must be carried out to demonstrate that the resource is exploitable.”

The objective is for the mine to be operational in 2030, specifies NRK. “This will require rapid processing of files and a lot of additional research.” Not to mention colossal investments: according to Rare Earths Norway, the first phase of exploitation alone will require some 10 billion crowns, or 867 million euros.

The company, which is collaborating with Austrian researchers to develop the extraction method “the most sustainable in the world”, envisages exclusively underground exploitation.

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