Norwegian authorities revealed last week the discovery of “substantial” amounts of mineral deposits on its continental shelf seabed. Officials announced that a study had discovered the presence of significant metal and mineral deposits ranging from rare earths to copper along the seabed on its extended continental shelf.
Led by the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD), the study unearthed the presence of niobium, cobalt, magnesium and rare earth metals that are documented on the European Commission’s critical minerals list.
Norway is one of the largest oil and gas exporters in the world, with the Nordic country planning to export an estimated 122 billion cubic meters of natural gas this year.
Like most developed countries, Norway has been keen on curbing pollution by turning to green and nonpolluting energy sources such as solar and wind power. This new discovery will grant Norway access to metals that play a critical role in green energy production and could potentially cut Europe’s reliance on China for rare earth oxides.
Rare earth metals such as magnetic and conductive metals, including cerium, neodymium and lutetium, play a critical role in the production of electronic devices and weapons systems.
Despite the fact China has only one-third of the world’s total rare earth deposits, the country controls more than 90% of the globe’s rare earth production. With the massive deposits found in Norway, Europe may be able to challenge China’s stranglehold of the global rare earth industry.
The study estimates that there could be as much as 38 million tons of copper and 45 million ton of zinc in the remote areas of the Norwegian and Greenland Seas. The zinc is currently contained in polymetallic sulfide deposits along the mid-ocean ridge while around 3.1 million ton of cobalt, 24 million ton of magnesium and 1.7 million tons of rare-earth metal cerium are contained in manganese crusts along the bedrock.
According to the study, these manganese crusts are also estimated to contain further rare earth metals, including dysprosium, neodymium, and yttrium. NPD noted that expensive rare earth minerals such as dysprosium and neodymium play a crucial role in building magnets for electric vehicle engines and wind turbines.
However, not everyone is ready to jump into mining efforts, even if it is to ultimately power green energies. Environmental groups such as the Institute of Marine Research advised authorities to hold off on seabed mineral exploration until more research provided a deeper insight into the organisms and animals living on the seabed and how deep sea mining would affect them.
The rich discovery in Norway shows that there is still plenty for extraction companies such as Arizona Metals Corp. (TSX: AMC) (OTCQX: AZMCF) to explore for and leverage in terms of mineral resources in different jurisdictions around the world as technology advances and demand skyrockets.
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