You always hate to see this sort of thing happen to a totalitarian communist superpower:
Swedish mining company LKAB says it has found Europe's largest deposit of rare earth oxides in the country's north, a discovery that could reduce the continent's reliance on China for the critical resource.
LKAB has identified more than one million tonnes of rare earth oxides in the Kiruna area, located in the far north of the country, the company said in a statement on Thursday.
In case you're not familiar with them, rare-earth elements are important in a huge number of critical products and systems:
Rare-earth elements (REE) are necessary components of more than 200 products across a wide range of applications, especially high-tech consumer products, such as cellular telephones, computer hard drives, electric and hybrid vehicles, and flat-screen monitors and televisions. Significant defense applications include electronic displays, guidance systems, lasers, and radar and sonar systems.
Yeah, you definitely don't want to be dependent upon China for this sort of thing, as the mining company LKAB points out:
[D]emand is expected to increase dramatically as a result of electrification, which will lead to a global undersupply, and this at a time of increasing geopolitical tensions. According to the European Commission's assessment, the demand for rare earth elements for electric cars and wind turbines, among others, is expected to increase more than fivefold by 2030. Today, Europe is also dependent on imports of these minerals, where China completely dominates the market, a factor which increases the vulnerability of European industry.
LKAB claims it will be "at least 10-15 years before we can actually begin mining and deliver raw materials to the market," so they're still a ways off before they can actually start pulling this stuff out of the ground.