Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

posted by hubie on Friday January 20 2023, @02:15AM   Printer-friendly
from the there's-yttrium-in-them-thar-hills! dept.

Sweden Finds Largest-Ever Rare Earth Metal Deposit In Europe:

Rare earth elements are vital to a green energy future because you can't build batteries and other EV components without them. That's a problem for Europe, which has no rare earth mining operations. That could be changing, though. Government-run mining firm LKAB has reported the largest rare earth mineral deposit ever discovered in Europe.

In 2022, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen noted that European mining of rare earth metals, as well as lithium, would soon be more important than oil and gas. According to LKAB, the north of Sweden is home to 1 million metric tons of rare earth oxides. These elements, the names of which you probably don't hear often, have a huge number of applications. For example, Yttrium is used in battery cathodes, lasers, and camera lenses. Neodymium is used for magnets, more lasers, and capacitors.

[...] LKAB cautions that it's too early to tell China to take its mountains of rare earth minerals someplace else. The Per Geijer deposit, which sits in and around the town of Kiruna, has only just been identified. It will take several more years of exploration to determine the full extent of the deposit, and then there's the long process of getting mining permits. Some residents of Kiruna have also expressed concern about how mining will affect the region, and that could further slow the process of getting the minerals out of the ground and into the supply chain. LKAB currently expects it will be 10-15 years before any mining operation could be up and running.


Original Submission

Related Stories

Rare Earth Elements Could be Pulled From Coal Waste 7 comments

Rare earth elements could be pulled from coal waste:

In Appalachia's coal country, researchers envision turning toxic waste into treasure. The pollution left behind by abandoned mines is an untapped source of rare earth elements.

Rare earths are a valuable set of 17 elements needed to make everything from smartphones and electric vehicles to fluorescent bulbs and lasers. With global demand skyrocketing and China having a near-monopoly on rare earth production — the United States has only one active mine — there's a lot of interest in finding alternative sources, such as ramping up recycling.

Pulling rare earths from coal waste offers a two-for-one deal: By retrieving the metals, you also help clean up the pollution.

Long after a coal mine closes, it can leave a dirty legacy. When some of the rock left over from mining is exposed to air and water, sulfuric acid forms and pulls heavy metals from the rock. This acidic soup can pollute waterways and harm wildlife.

Recovering rare earths from what's called acid mine drainage won't single-handedly satisfy rising demand for the metals, acknowledges Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute in Morgantown. But he points to several benefits.

This discussion was created by hubie (1068) for logged-in users only, but now has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
(1)
  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2023, @03:28AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2023, @03:28AM (#1287670)

    LKAB currently expects it will be 10-15 years before any mining operation could be up and running.

    I suppose China with its lack of human rights and no care about pollution when it can get away with it which it wants to spread throughout the world would clear out a small town and begin clearing the land within days. And because Western nations take so long instead of finding some middle ground, in a way we are sustaining and condoning China's approach of human misery and slavery.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Rosco P. Coltrane on Friday January 20 2023, @04:26AM

      by Rosco P. Coltrane (4757) on Friday January 20 2023, @04:26AM (#1287683)

      If China starts making difficulties buying their rare earth metals, you can bet your shiny Swedish krona that Sweden will find a way to cut the red tape and make the mining happen a lot more quickly than 10 to 15 years. They have the luxury to do things nice and respectfully to everybody because China hasn't inflicted artificial scarcity upon the world yet.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by looorg on Friday January 20 2023, @04:10AM (1 child)

    by looorg (578) on Friday January 20 2023, @04:10AM (#1287679)

    To add to the issue China can more or less scrap these ideas whenever they want by just flooding the market or making their metals so cheap that no one else can really compete. After all this will take significant investments to build and operate, costs that China probably doesn't have. So they can seriously undercut the market if they want to. It's not like the minerals will go away but they'll stay in the ground until it's viable to bring them up. After all these minerals are in other places to except China, or china controlled areas, but they are just not being mined.

    Then there are the domestic issues. We have the various Green/Eco-people that wants it all to remain in the ground for "reasons" and are more or less opposed to mining on principle. Also there is the Sami people, and their reindeer herds, that within hours of this being made public already started complaining how the government is killing them, their culture and their deer. So they will both have to be appeased somehow before this even start so that is probably also what a good chunk of those 10+ years will be about, lawsuits. Even tho both processes can run at the same time. But in the end tho I would assume they will be built. It's all just about compensating, or bribing those that need such thing.

    The normal population of Kiruna are, or should be, used to it tho. The town keeps forever moving. Knowing full well that without the mine(s) there is no town. The town is there to support the mining operation and not the other way around, always have and always will -- until it runs out but that isn't happening anytime soon. But only then can they have their arctic circle paradise.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by sjames on Friday January 20 2023, @05:08AM

      by sjames (2882) on Friday January 20 2023, @05:08AM (#1287691) Journal

      As long as development creeps forward fast enough, it acts as a bludgeon that forces China to keep dumping. It seriously undercuts their leverage.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Megahard on Friday January 20 2023, @05:06AM (1 child)

    by Megahard (4782) on Friday January 20 2023, @05:06AM (#1287690)

    Many rare earth elements were first discovered in Sweden.

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by fraxinus-tree on Friday January 20 2023, @12:11PM

      by fraxinus-tree (5590) on Friday January 20 2023, @12:11PM (#1287718)

      Hell yeah. 4 of them are named after a single vilage in Sweden (Yttrium, Terbium, Erbium and Ytterbium), there are also Holmium (after the Sweden capital), Gadolinium (the swede that discovered a lot of them) and Scandium (Scandinavia is the place where the Sweden is).

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2023, @09:57AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2023, @09:57AM (#1287712)

    The LKAB mine there in Kiruna was originally mainly an iron mine but the vein kept going deeper until it passed the limit of economic feasibility to bring it up even though it is some crazily high percentage of iron in it. Exhaust and ventilation are two big costs, not to mention problems from vibrations and noise, and electric vehicles [electrive.com] would reduce that greatly as compared to what they have now which consists of basically the same nasty diesel motors you'd find stinking up the surface. Once they could no longer go deeper, they started to go sideways and hit the town of Kiruna which they recently forced to move out of the way [lkab.com] so that they could keep digging. The ore or refined ore is taken out on train, the line goes to Luleå and to Narkvik. If you can stand cold water and have the skill + certs, there is excellent wreck diving there [scubaverse.com] with dozens of WWII wrecks, mostly Nazi, littering the bottom.

    Right now the greater mining region overlaps three countries and is kind of in a free-for-all, almost-unregulated, prospecting craze with no respect for public or private land. The laws are old and were designed for individuals, not mulitnational companies, and arise from practices found in centuries past. They are currently being badly abused and the corporate prospectors are tearing up private land without warning or reparation. Bizarrely the prospecting rights are being handed off without a thought to foreign companies as part of that abuse. There is also the question of enforcement. One mine was denied a permit for uranium but later negotiated a license for some other ore with a clause permitting any uranium "accidentally" found along the way to be kept. Now it is officially a producer of uranium. Another, further south and east is where you have Europe's largest environmental disaster which continues to evade remediation since the mine keeps changing companies to slough off sanctions and fines. Then there are many new ones being dug in areas which have been relying increasingly on nature tourism, an activity which cannot persist without more responsible management of the mining permits.

    The lanthanides are currently very important for industry but so is being able to continue to live on the surface of the planet. The three governments have turned a blind eye to that for a long time though.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Friday January 20 2023, @06:30PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday January 20 2023, @06:30PM (#1287757)

      >Some residents of Kiruna have also expressed concern about how mining will affect the region

      Talk about too little, too late... it is a beautiful region, but when I passed through Kiruna in (the summer of) 1989 I got off the train, planning to look around for 4 hours and hop on the next train going my way, but instead after about 40 seconds overlooking the town from the rail platform, I decided to head up to Bjorkliden instead for my stopover. Met some people on the train who did visit Kiruna for a day or two - they said I definitely made the right decision, the only reason they went was "because it's there and we have nothing else to do." Dirt, dust, mining town. You can tell by the way the rails were built: mine in Kiruna, ship from Narvik - Narvik was worth the visit. Kiruna? As you said, they moved it once already to make way for the mining operation... as long as they keep from emitting too much air and water pollution, I don't think there's much in Kiruna left to mess up.

      --
      🌻🌻 [google.com]
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by JoeMerchant on Friday January 20 2023, @07:03PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday January 20 2023, @07:03PM (#1287768)

      > Another, further south and east is where you have Europe's largest environmental disaster which continues to evade remediation since the mine keeps changing companies to slough off sanctions and fines.

      That our legislators, all over the world, fail to close these loopholes is an absolutely shameful exposure of the farce of government 'for the people'. It's government by the money of the people.

      New company wants to take over the operations: escrow deposit against cleanup. Fines can be waived, but you put the estimated cost of cleanup on hold with the regulators and they give it back to you as cleanup hits milestones. No deposit for cleanup? No operations at the mine, period.

      Company performing operations goes bankrupt? Fines have precedence over equity and debt. Sanctions personally follow all employees with job functions of manager or higher, until such time as the site is remediated.

      NATO was a great idea in 1949, a better idea today is uniform global management of environmentally sensitive operations. We all share the water and the air, we should be allied in our defenses of it.

      --
      🌻🌻 [google.com]
  • (Score: 5, Funny) by Gaaark on Friday January 20 2023, @12:59PM (4 children)

    by Gaaark (41) on Friday January 20 2023, @12:59PM (#1287720) Journal

    Putin plans to annex them next.... heh...

    --
    --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2023, @01:32PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2023, @01:32PM (#1287725)

      Aw, don't tell me they've got Jewish Nazis in control of things there too!

    • (Score: 3, Touché) by DannyB on Friday January 20 2023, @03:34PM

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 20 2023, @03:34PM (#1287742) Journal

      Putin plans to annex them next

      Putin is the proud owner of the second best military in Ukraine.

      --
      The people who rely on government handouts and refuse to work should be kicked out of congress.
    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Friday January 20 2023, @06:56PM (1 child)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday January 20 2023, @06:56PM (#1287765)

      Gotta go through Finland first... unless we can spin a story of poor persecuted ethnic Russians in Sweden who need protecting?

      --
      🌻🌻 [google.com]
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2023, @07:21PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2023, @07:21PM (#1287774)
        > Gotta go through Finland first... Not necessarily. Bornholm, Gotland and Malmö are more accessible from the sea and losing one or more of those would lose control over the mouth of the Baltic. Malmö is only partially under control [dw.com] any more as it stands.
(1)