Norway just loosened China’s stranglehold on rare minerals critical to the global economy—and it’s a huge win for Europe and the U.S.

Rare Earths Norway, a mining company based in Norway, recently made a groundbreaking discovery – the largest deposit of rare earth elements in Europe. This finding holds significant implications, not only for the company itself, which stands to gain immensely, but also for global geopolitics.
Norway has discovered a deposit of rare earths in the Fen Carbonatite Complex, located in the southern part of the country. These rare elements, which belong to a family of 17 metals, are widely used in consumer electronics such as smartphones and flat-screen TVs. They also play a crucial role in the transition towards green energy, as they are essential components in electric vehicles and wind turbines. However, these elements are scarce globally, hence their name. China currently dominates the extraction and processing of rare earth elements, accounting for 70% of extraction and 90% of processing, giving the country significant influence over their global supply and demand, according to research conducted by the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.
According to Rare Earths Norway CEO Alf Reistad, Europe currently does not extract any rare earth elements. However, Norway’s recent discovery could change that and make Europe a contender in the industry.
Norway’s recent discovery of rare earths comes at a time of strained trade relations between Europe and the U.S. with China. These tensions are largely driven by national security concerns. Europe, in particular, is wary of China due to its close ties with Russia, which has faced isolation in Europe, especially among European Union members. Similarly, the U.S. and China are locked in an ongoing trade war. The U.S. has accused China of flooding global markets with certain products, such as electric vehicles, leading to oversupply. There are concerns that China, as a dominant player in the rare elements market, could manipulate prices by deliberately withholding supply. While China has threatened to do so, it has not yet taken action.
Norway has taken steps to reduce Europe’s reliance on China for access to materials. In January, the Norwegian parliament voted in favor of offshore, deep-sea mining of rare minerals in remote waters north of the country. This move makes Norway the first country to permit seabed mining for rare minerals, in addition to being a major producer of oil and natural gas. The mining area spans 108,000 square miles, approximately the size of Colorado. This recent discovery further enhances Europe’s position in competition with countries like China.
China’s ability to capitalize on its reserves of rare elements and use them strategically was not a mere coincidence. Through deliberate domestic industrial policies, the Chinese government obtained patents for the necessary extraction technology and invested heavily in mining ore deposits worldwide. Once China established its dominance in this sector, it took measures to protect its position, such as banning the export of gallium and germanium extraction technology. China’s market advantage was also facilitated by lenient labor standards. The Oxford Institute researchers noted that this dominance was achieved through decades of state investment, export controls, cheap labor, and lax environmental regulations. This article was initially published on