Finland Reports Large Deposit of Rare Earths

by | 17. Feb 2023 - 12:27 | Economy

Sokli mining project could meet significant share of European demand for rare earth magnet production. Estimated to be years away from commercial mining.

After recent reports of large rare earth deposits in Sweden and Norway raised hopes of greater European independence in raw materials, Finland is now following suit. Sokli, a mineral deposit in eastern Lapland, contains significant quantities of rare earth metals, reports Finnish Minerals Group, the state-owned company that runs the mining project.

The group believes Sokli has far greater potential for these commodities than the recently reported deposits in Kiruna, Sweden, Helsinki Times writes. Almost ten percent of all rare earth metals needed annually for the production of permanent magnets in Europe could be covered by it.

“No Transition to Renewables Without New Mines”

Rare earths are essential for the energy transition, but despite rising demand, the raw materials have hardly been produced in Europe so far, said Jani Kiuru, senior vice president of Raw Materials at Finnish Minerals Group. Without new mines, the transition to renewable energy could not be achieved.

Where the ore will be processed after mining has not yet been determined, the mining company said, possibly “somewhere between Sokli and Kemijärvi,” a town about 180 kilometers away. An underground transport pipeline is being considered to keep the environmental footprint of production low.

However, it will take many years before this is the case. Finnish Minerals Group expects to start building infrastructure for the mine in the early 2030s – assuming further exploration and the planning and permitting processes are successful.

Investment in Europe’s Battery Value Chain

Finnish Minerals Group is also investing elsewhere in the European critical minerals and electromobility value chain. On Thursday, it announced that it is planning a joint factory for cathode material for batteries in Finland, together with Luxembourg-based Freyr Battery. Production is to be based on lithium, iron and phosphate, the latter two raw materials said to be present in large quantities in Sokli.

Photo: iStock/Denis Shevchuk

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