Rare earth deposit in Sweden 25% larger than initial investigation indicated

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Mining company LKAB (Luleå, Sweden) has announced that today it is submitting an application for a processing concession for the Per Geijer deposit in the Kiruna area of northern Sweden. Meanwhile, the company said that according to further investigations at the Per Geijer deposit, the mineral resources for rare earth oxides is 25% higher than initially thought, at over 1.3 million metric tons "in situ."

In January, the company had said it identified mineral resources of rare earth metals exceeding 1 million metric tons (MMt) of rare earth oxides at the Per Geijer deposit. The discovery was already the largest reported rare earth deposit of its kind in Europe when announced. Per Geijer is an iron ore deposit with high levels of both phosphorus and rare earth oxides, the company said.

If the processing concession is approved, the company said it will continue to develop the deposit and prepare an environmental permit application. "However, this does not mean that we get permission to start a mine. The processing concession is also only one part of the complex Swedish review system," said Jan Moström, president and CEO of LKAB.

In addition, if the processing concession is approved, it will give LKAB the conditions to invest in the extensive studies required as a basis for decisions on possible future mining, the company said. A permit is also required in accordance with Sweden’s Environmental Code from the Land and Environment Court, to open a mine, LKAB said.

"In Europe, there is now talk of two years for permits for strategically important minerals such as those for the rare earth metals, but our experience is that it can take between 10 and 15 years to get through the complex Swedish trial system. The processing concession is only one part of this. So, this will be an important test if the permit system manages to meet the expectations of the outside world," said Moström.

LKAD added that the issue of "lengthy and unpredictable" permit examinations has been widely debated in recent years, and current and previous governments have promised reforms so that a critical climate transition does not fall on bureaucratic formal requirements without significance for the environment.

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