The extraction of critical minerals, necessary to realise the electrification of the EU’s vehicle fleet, is dominated by a few countries such as China and Russia. In a press release from Chalmers University of Technology, LKAB’s deposit of rare earth metals in Kiruna is mentioned as an opportunity to reduce Europe’s import dependence, an issue that was also on the agenda during the US Secretary of State’s visit to the Hybrit pilot plant in Luleå on 30 May.
Chalmers’ survey, commissioned by the European Commission, points to the importance of increasing the recycling rate of rare earth metals in an economic and efficient way. Recycling is important, but it is not enough. Europe is already heavily dependent on imports, and with electrification taking place, the need will also increase. This is where Per Geijer, LKAB’s deposit of rare earth metals, could have a major impact.
“This [the LKAB deposit of rare earth metals] is extremely interesting, especially the discovery of neodymium which, among other things, is used in magnets in electric motors. The hope is that it will help make us less dependent on imports in the long run,” says Maria Ljunggren, Associate Professor in Sustainable Materials Management at Chalmers University of Technology.