Rare Earth Elements (REE) is the collective name for a group of metallic elements that always occur together in nature. They occur relatively commonly in Earth’s crust but are scarce since they are difficult to separate from each other.
Production of REEs entails mining of large volumes of ore but results in low amounts of the finished product. Additionally, REEs are not currently mined in the EU. Which means that China dominates the global market. Many consider this to be a threat, owing to potential trade conflicts.
Cleantech and strategic products
An example of an application that has REEs is permanent magnets. You can find these magnets in electric motors and wind turbines. Therefore, control of these value chains is important for other strategic applications and for the green transition. LKAB is a partner in the EU’s European Raw Materials Alliance, which will contribute to increasing Europe’s degree of self-sufficiency and whose first initiative is to focus on REEs and permanent magnets.
A large part of EU demand
ReeMAP has the potential to produce 30% of current EU demand and up to 100% of certain metals.
REO to REE
LKAB will mainly produce a concentrate of Rare Earth Oxides (REO), a raw material which the industry will further upgrade to, for example, separate metals and alloys. Within the EU there is currently no supplier of this raw material.
There is an exciting possibility for further upgrading this to individual metals in Sweden and the EU.