New EU Legislation to Make Opening Mines in Europe Easier

Pressekonferanse i Kirunagruven

Important to the European self-sufficiency of critical raw materials: In January, CEO Jan Moström (left) of the mining company LKAB presented that the company had made major discoveries of rare earth metals in Northern Sweden. "This provides a potential for Europa to take the lead in the green shift," said Sweden's Minister of Energy and Business, Ebba Busch (right). (Photo: Wesley Overklift/LKAB)

The European Parliament recently gave the green light for new plans to secure the EU's supply of critical raw materials, essential in cellphones, electric cars, and solar panels, among other things. These are positive news for the mining company LKAB, which made major discoveries of mineral resources in Northern Sweden.

This week, the European Parliament gave the green light for new rules to ensure the EU increased extraction and supply of strategic raw materials.

Through the law, the EU will make it easier to open new mines, or strategic projects, which are considered especially important, among other things. The aim is to ensure Europe's greater supply of critical raw materials, which are crucial to the union's green and digital shift.

The new law includes economic incentives and a more stable and secure business framework for mining and recycling projects – with quicker and easier authorisation procedures.

This will increase mining, processing and recycling in Europe.

Nicola Beer, MEP (Member of the European Parliament)

Easier authorisation procedures

"This legislation is an industrial policy blueprint for a secure and sustainable supply of raw materials in Europe," says Nicola Beer, Lead MEP (Member of the European Parliament), in a press release.

"With targeted economic incentives, we are creating project-planning certainty for private investors - through single points of contact for companies, and fast and simple authorisation procedures with clear deadlines for national authorities. This will boost mining, processing and recycling in Europe," she adds.

LKAB positive to new rules

The backdrop for the new legislation is the global shift toward renewable energy of digitization of economies and societies. Electric cars, solar panels, and smartphones all contain critical raw materials and the demand for these will increase in the coming years.

Critical raw materials are pivotal for the EU's green and digital transitions, and securing their supply is crucial for the European Union's economic resilience, technological leadership, and strategic autonomy," reads the press release.

In Northern Sweden, the Swedish state mining company LKAB is positive to shorter permit processes, which the new legislation entails, according to the Swedish radio channel P4.

Niklas Johansson, Senior Vice President of the Communication and Climate Unit, says to P4 Norrbotten that is is necessary to ensure access to critical raw materials.

Major mineral deposits in Northern Sweden

LKAB operates several iron ore mines in Sweden's northernmost region and also invests big in the production and processing of minerals.

In January this year, the mining company announced that they had made great discoveries of rare earth mineral resources in the Northern Swedish town of Kiruna. According to LKAB, the deposit has the potential of becoming Europe's most important mine for critical raw materials.

The company's mining operations take place in the immediate vicinity of what is the world's largest underground mine for iron ore.

LKAB CEO Jan Moström specified in connection with the finding that a fossil free future requires six times greater production of minerals in 2040 than today. He also highlighted that the EU uses 30 percent of the global metals and minerals, but only 3 percent of these are extracted in the union.

Regarding Rare Earth Elements, over five times more of these will reportedly be needed by 2030, primarily for electric cars and wind power. However, there is no production of these in the EU.

The law in question, named the Critical Raw Materials Act, must be formally approved by the EU Council before it can enter into force.

More about LKAB

The mining company LKAB operates several iron ore mines in Kiruna and Gällivare in Norrbotten in Northern Sweden. The company is Europe's largest iron ore producer.

LKAB produces 80 percent of Europe's iron ore and is leading the transformation of the iron and steel industry with the strategy of producing carbon dioxide-free sponge iron using hydrogen technology.

The company has also been involved in the mineral industry since the 80s through the Special Products business area, where they produce and refine more than 30 minerals.

Extraction and refining of phosphorus, rare earth metals, and fluorine is part of LKAB's ReeMAP project. In the project, LKAB is developing technology for extracting phosphorus and rare earth metals as by-products from current iron ore production and is planning a circular industrial park in Luleå.

The scheduled production start for the factory in Luleå is in 2027.

Also read