Europe's largest rare earth deposit in Norway


By John

The largest is located in Norway rare earth deposit of Europe, a true treasure of fundamental elements to produce the technologies necessary for green transition and digital: located in the south-east of the country, the Fensfeltet deposit appears to contain 8.8 million tonnes of rare earth oxides totals (Treo), much more than the Kiruna field in Sweden, which is supposed to contain between 1 and 2 million tonnes. This is indicated by the estimates developed after three years of drilling and analysis by the Norwegian mining group Rare Earths Norway (Ren), in collaboration with the Canadian consultancy company Wsp.

Reduction of dependence on China

This new natural treasure therefore promises to reduce Europe's dependence on China, from which today 98% of imported rare earths come. The Fensfeltet deposit could begin to be exploited in 2030 with an initial investment of 10 billion Norwegian crowns (equal to approximately 870 million euros) to develop the first extraction phase, so that Rare Earths Norway can cover 10% of the demand for rare earths in line with the European objectives indicated by the regulation on critical raw materials (Critical Raw Materials Act).

Strategic importance for Europe

Expectations are high, considering that rare earths are not currently extracted in Europe and that these materials could soon become more important than oil and gas, as stated a few years ago by the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Layen herself. The Norwegian deposit is of particular interest due to the presence of 1.5 million tonnes of rare earths (neodymium And praseodymium) for the production of magnets used in electric vehicles and wind turbines. “The European Union considers these metals to be the most critical raw materials when considering supply risks,” underlines the company Rare Earths Norway. Also for this reason “the estimate underlines the potential of the deposit as a truly transformative resource capable of supporting a secure value chain of rare earths for Europe”.

Future potential of the field

The current evaluation of the Fensfeltet deposit provides an estimate of mineral resources down to 468 meters below sea level, but further drilling appears to suggest the presence of mineralization even at greater depths (up to 1,000 meters below sea level). New surprises are therefore expected from this site (known as the 'Fen Carbonatite Complex') which derives from an ancient volcanic conduit formed 580 million years ago by a flow of carbonate-rich magma.

Next steps and environmental impact

Over the next few months, further drilling will be conducted and the economic feasibility of the project will be better assessed, with results that will be communicated by 2024. The Norwegian mining group is already working with various partners to operate on the deposit with technologies that allow to minimize the environmental impact of mining activities.