Swedish mining industry

Prerequisite for the green transition

A fossil-free future requires large amounts of metals and minerals because new, climate-efficient technology requires more of these substances than fossil-based technologies. Demand for minerals and metals will thus increase sharply both in Sweden and globally. Sweden produces several of the raw materials that are necessary for fossil freedom and the green transition. Our bedrock also contains a large number of the CRM (critical raw materials), or sometimes innovation-critical, metals and minerals that are necessary for modern energy, environmental and technological innovations.

Today, however, there is no mining of these metals and minerals in Sweden, despite the fact that they are found in our bedrock. Instead, Sweden and the rest of the EU import these materials. Often from countries with poor working environment conditions and which work far from as climate-efficient as we do in Sweden.

The number of critical raw materials (CRM) is constantly increasing

In 2011, the EU Commission presented the first so-called critical list. It contained 14 CRM. In 2014 came the second version, then with 20 CRM. The third version was presented in 2017 and the number of CRMs had then increased to 27. The latest list, which was presented in the autumn of 2020, contains 30 CRM. The number of materials has thus constantly increased on the EU’s list.

The 2020 critical list includes: antimony, barite, bauxite, beryllium, borates, fluorspar, phosphate mineral, phosphorus, gallium, germanium, graphite, hafnium, indium, light rare earth elements (LREE), heavy rare earth elements (HREE), silicon, cobalt, coking coal, lithium, magnesium, natural rubber, niobium, platinum group metals (PGE), scandium, strontium, tantalum, titanium, vanadium, bismuth and tungsten.

About half of all CRMs on the latest list are in the Swedish bedrock. > Read more about the CRMs here.

In parallel with the updated list, the EU-Commission also presented an action plan and a future study that addresses the raw materials that are crucial to the transition to a green and digital economy, while strengthening the EU’s degree of self-sufficiency.

The Action Plan looks at current and future challenges and proposes measures to reduce Europe’s dependence on third countries, diversify supply from both primary and secondary sources and improve resource efficiency and circularity while promoting responsible purchasing worldwide. The ten measures in total will promote the transition to a green and digital economy.

Sweden is already today the EU’s most mining nation and will thus play an important role in ensuring the EU’s security of supply of metals and minerals. All indications are that this significance will increase.

Sources: SGU, EU Commission

Further reading

> Report – Study on the EU’s list of Critical Raw Materials (2020) Final Report

> Action Plan – Critical Raw Materials Resilience: Charting a Path towards greater Security and Sustainability

> Foresight Study – Critical Raw Materials for Strategic Technologies and Sectors in the EU – A Foresight Study

> List of CRM – Fourth list of critical raw materials for the EU of 2020

> Press release – Commission announces actions to make Europe’s raw materials supply more secure and sustainable