Rare Earth Elements Discovered in Sweden - IE - 17/01/23
Recently, Sweden’s state-owned mining company LKAB has discovered Europe’s largest deposit of rare earth metals.
->Significance of the Discovery:
-The store, situated in Kiruna located in the northern region of Sweden, holds a stockpile of over 1 million metric tons of rare earth oxides. This discovery bolsters Europe's ambition to rely less on imported raw materials needed for the green transition. Currently, no rare earths are mined in Europe and it mostly imports them from other regions.
->Rare Earth Elements: They are a set of 17 metallic elements. These include the 15 lanthanides on the periodic table in addition to scandium and yttrium that show similar physical and chemical properties to the lanthanides.
-They are important in technologies of consumer electronics, computers and networks, communications, clean energy, advanced transportation, healthcare, environmental mitigation, and national defence, among others.
-Rare earth elements are also used in space shuttle components, jet engine turbines, and drones.
-Moreover, the push for switching from internal combustion cars to electric vehicles has also led to a rise in demand for rare earth.
->Monopoly of China: China has over time acquired global domination of rare earths, even at one point, it produced 90% of the rare earths the world needs. Since 2010, when China curbed shipments of Rare Earths to Japan, the US, and Europe, production units have come up in Australia. Even so, the dominant share of processed Rare Earths lies with China.
->Rare Earth Elements in India:
-India has 6% of the world’s rare earth reserves, it only produces 1% of global output, and meets most of its requirements of such minerals from China.
-Indian Rare Earths Limited (IREL) is majorly responsible for mining and extraction of primary mineral that contains Rare Earth Elements: monazite beach sand, found in many coastal states.
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