A Norwegian Volcano Holds the Key to Boosting Electric Cars in Europe

Written by Kathrine Frich

Jun.23 - 2024 12:02 PM CET

Foto: Shutterstock
Foto: Shutterstock
A recent development from Norway could mark a significant step towards increasing Europe's independence.

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Europe currently stands at a critical juncture regarding electric vehicles, lagging significantly behind China in both the sale of these vehicles and the production and control of the battery supply chain.

Despite this gap, Europe has imposed controversial tariffs on the import of electric cars from China. This disparity isn't something that can be corrected overnight.

For perspective, China dominates 70 percent of the global supply of rare earth elements and controls 90 percent of their processing. Additionally, China is responsible for 91 percent of anode production, 78 percent of cathodes, and 70 percent of battery cells.

These figures underscore China's immense dominance in this field, which is crucial in the race to decarbonize transportation.

Norway's Discovery: A Step Towards Independence

A recent development from Norway could mark a significant step towards increasing Europe's independence in the extraction and processing of these critical minerals according to Motor.

Geologists from the mining company Rare Earths Norway (REN) have announced the discovery of a major rare earth deposit after three years of research and on-site exploration. Located in an extinct volcano in Telemark county, southwest of Oslo, this find is the largest of its kind in continental Europe.

The Fen Carbonatite Complex is estimated to hold deposits that could meet 10 percent of Europe's rare earth demand, with initial forecasts indicating 8.8 megatons of rare earth oxides, including 1.5 megatons expected to be magnets, which are vital for electric vehicles, wind turbines, and other applications.

Vital Role of Rare Earths in Electric Vehicles

The explorations of the magma in the Norwegian volcano have revealed the presence of economically significant rare earth elements such as neodymium and praseodymium.

These elements are used in the manufacturing of magnets and are considered by the European Union as critical raw materials due to supply risk concerns.

The magnetic, electronic, and optical properties of these rare earths are crucial for applications related to electric vehicles, particularly those involving permanent magnets, catalysts, batteries, and alloys.

With further exploratory drilling and the construction of a pilot plant planned, this discovery could significantly bolster Europe's position in the global electric vehicle industry.