The largest discovery of rare earth metals in European history has sparked hopes of countering Chinese dominance in the sector.

Swedish mining company LKAB said it found more than one million tonnes of the rare resources used to make smartphones, electric vehicles, wind turbines and speakers in the nation’s Arctic region.

EU leaders hope the discovery will counter Chinese and Russian dominance over the mining of rare earth metals.

Rare earth elements have not been mined in Europe, making the continent dependent on imports from elsewhere.

Demand for them is expected to rise in coming years due to a spike in demand for electric vehicles and renewable energy products.

LKAB chief executive Jan Mostrom said: “This is good news, not only for LKAB, the region and the Swedish people, but also for Europe and the climate.

“It could become a significant building block for producing the critical raw materials that are absolutely crucial to enable the green transition.”

‘Independence will begin in the mine’

The vast majority of the rare earth minerals are currently mined in China, where many of the world’s most popular electronics are made.

Swedish energy minister Ebba Busch said: “Electrification, the EU’s self-sufficiency, and independence from Russia and China will begin in the mine.”

However, LKAB said it would be at least 10 to 15 years before it could potentially begin mining the deposit and shipping to market.

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