Norway has discovered a huge deposit of critical raw materials. Will this be Norway’s new oil? It might make the EU less dependent on China and Russia with regard to the bloc’s energy transition.
An incredible 70 billion tons of phosphorus lie underground in the county of Rogaland in southwest-Norway, and the company NorgeMining digs for minerals worth several hundred billion Norwegian kroner.
The biggest deposit of its kind globally
The Anglo-Norwegian mineral exploration company Norge Mining plc has a clear vision: to become a global leader in sourcing and developing valuable minerals using modern and sensitive mining methods. Now, the company claims to have discovered the biggest deposit of its kind globally, which could produce 70 billion to 80 billion tons of ore-containing material. In 2018, Norway was not even on the list of the world’s largest phosphate reserves.
In the valleys of the south-west, surrounded by birch trees, towering mountains and yellow-green plains, geologists are looking for Norway’s new green oil. For the time being, however, there are greater costs than gains. But according to the company, investigations so far indicates that Norway is sitting on large, untapped mineral deposits, and it focuses on three high worldwide demand resources: vanadium, phosphates and titanium.
The Storeknuten Mineral Resource
The Storeknuten Mineral Resource covers an area of about 400 000 m2, which represents approximately 15% of the Høyland Exploration Area. After backing from Swiss and German investors, Norge Mining was founded in the UK in 2018.
Ever since King Fredrik found copper in Telemark in 1524, mining has left open wounds in the landscape. But the mines created large incomes and jobs for hundreds of years, but few are active today, and since the late 1960s, North Sea oil has contributed to making Norway a prosperous nation.
According to NorgeMining, innovation and state-of-the-art technology will minimize any environmental impact and at the same time contribute to a more sustainable global future. Storeknuten is the company’s second world-class resource of EU critical raw materials, defined as materials of strategic importance for the European economy that the EU currently imports.
Phosphorus, vanadium and titanium
Publication of the Storeknuten MRE follows publication in February this year of the maiden MRE at Øygrei, a world-class deposit of 1.55 billion tons which is currently being extended and upgraded. Besides phosphates, two other important minerals were found: vanadium and titanium. Vanadium is tipped to become the most important raw material of the future. About a tenth of all globally mined vanadium is currently used to produce high-performance batteries that store renewable energy.
Phosphorus is used in fertilizers, and we depend on this element to be able to feed a growing population. Today, Western Sahara, which is illegally occupied by Morocco, sits on the largest reserves in the world. At the same time, demand is expected to rise sharply over the next thirty years. All this makes industrial food production vulnerable. And despite great efforts, no large deposits of the valuable, non-renewable substance have been found – until now.
Development in an area four times the size of Paris
Securing a stable, domestic region for developing these much-needed resources is not just the company’s vision; the European Union has officially named vanadium, phosphates and titanium as ‘Critical Raw Materials’ (2020). That means they’re economically and strategically important for European economies, but have a high supply risk.
John Vergopoulos, CEO of Norge Mining, said: “This MRE confirms Storeknuten as our second world-class deposit, further highlighting the potential of the Bjerkreim Exploration Project as a whole. In addition to 240 million tons of inferred mineral resource at Storeknuten, SRK has also reported a very substantial Exploration Target of between 1.4 and 2 billion tons.”
Norge Mining says it has since secured six licenses for the development of an area four times the size of Paris, some 420 square kilometers (261 square miles). In 2012, the Geological Survey of Norway put the value of the deposit at some €30 billion ($36.4 billion). However, that estimate assumed the ore deposit would have a depth of just 100 meters.
Norway’s new oil?
The founder of Norge Mining, Michael Wurmser adds, “Research has shown that we can run out of phosphorus. And now geological surveys show that there are over 70 billion tons in Eigersund. It’s totally crazy. It’s the world’s largest occurrence, and it’s only with surveys down to 1500 meters. The number is probably much larger».
Norway’s New Oil? written by Tor Kjolberg
All images © Norge Mining.