mandag 17. juni 2024

Norway just loosened China’s stranglehold on rare minerals critical to the global economy—and it’s a huge win for Europe and the U.S.

Norway just struck a gold mine. Well, a rare mineral mine. The Norwegian mining company, Rare Earths Norway, just uncovered the largest deposit of rare earth elements in Europe. The discovery has major implications not just for the company, which is certainly poised for a windfall, but for global geopolitics.

Rare Earths Norway found the deposit in the Fen Carbonatite Complex located in the southern tip of the country, according to a press release. These rare elements, which are a family of 17 metals, are used in a host of consumer electronics like smartphones and flat-screen TVs. They’re also critical to the green-energy transition because they are key components in products like electric vehicles and wind turbines. But, as the name suggests, they are in short supply around the world. 

By dint of geography or luck, the vast majority of rare earth elements are found and extracted in China, giving the world’s second largest economy extraordinary influence in determining their supply and demand across the world. Currently, China accounts for 70% of the extraction of these elements from the ground and 90% of their processing, according to research from the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, an independent energy research institute.