Norways Finds a Treasure Trove of Minerals in Its Seabed

Svalbard, Svalbard, Norway.

Svalbard, Svalbard, Norway.
photo: Sergio Pitamitz / VW Pics (AP)

A recent study by the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate found large amounts of valuable metals and minerals on the seabed of the country’s continental shelf. Reuters reported. The rare earth metalsCopper and other materials would be a boon to Europe’s ability to produce energy transition technologies, but environmentalists are concerned about the potential impact of mining in the region.

The Directorate’s study found that there are more than 40 million tons of copper in remote areas of the Norwegian Sea and Greenland Sea. The study also discovered cobalt, magnesium and niobium. All of this is taken into account critical raw materials in Europe because they are used to manufacture consumer goods across multiple industries. There are also deposits of rare earths, including neodymium and dysprosium, Reuters reported. This is a particularly critical find, since European countries import most of their rare metals from other nations.

Drilling for these materials could help advance green technologies, including electric vehicles and batteries to store solar and wind energy. “Costly, rare minerals like neodymium and dysprosium are extremely important for magnets in wind turbines and the motors in electric vehicles,” the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said in a statement, according to Reuters. The Petroleum Directorate also said there are enough materials in these seafloor deposits to supply years of global metal consumption. This is reported by Sky News.

Environmental groups in the country are calling on the government to pause exploration for the time being. They want further studies to understand how mining will affect marine life along the sea floor. A consultation letter from the Norwegian Institute for Marine Research noted that while the director’s study included estimates of how much of the precious metals are available, studies could be conducted to find out how much of these materials could be extracted without major environmental destruction. The institute also fears there may be undiscovered species in the ocean that could also be affected by mineral exploration.

This news comes just a few weeks after nearby Sweden discovered what may be some of the largest known rare earth metal deposits in Europe. LKAB, a Swedish state mining company, said it found over a million tons of rare earth oxides. “This is the largest known deposit of rare earth elements in our part of the world, and it could become an important building block for the production of critical raw materials that are absolutely critical to the green transition,” said Jan Mostrom, President and CEO of LKAB in an online statement about the discovery. Norways Finds a Treasure Trove of Minerals in Its Seabed

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