Deep Dives

Huge Norwegian phosphate deposit can satisfy a century's worth of demand

July 5, 2023
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A massive deposit of high-grade phosphate rock, essential for producing products like fertilizers, solar panels, and electric vehicle batteries, has been discovered in Norway. This find, made by Norwegian mining company Norge Mining, contains enough minerals to fulfill global demand for the next century.

Discovery of Phosphate Rock Deposit: Norge Mining discovered a large phosphate rock deposit in southwestern Norway.
  • The deposit contains about 70 billion tonnes of phosphate rock.
  • Other minerals, like titanium and vanadium used in aerospace and defense industries, were also found.

  • Importance of Phosphate Rock: Phosphate rock plays a crucial role in several key industries.
  • It's used to produce phosphorous, a vital component in fertilizers, with 90% of the world's mined phosphate rock directed towards agriculture.
  • The rock also contributes to the production of batteries for electric vehicles, solar panels, and semiconductors.
  • The European Commission has identified these products as strategically important for green and digital transitions.

  • Impact on EU and Global Supply: The discovery could significantly affect phosphate rock supply, especially in the European Union.
  • The EU heavily relies on phosphate rock imports, so the discovery could ease concerns about potential shortages.
  • With geopolitical issues like Russia's invasion of Ukraine potentially disrupting phosphorous supply, the new discovery gains importance.
  • Considering the global economy uses up to 50 million tonnes of phosphorus annually, concerns about shortages and the control by a few big suppliers are valid.

  • Phosphorous Refining and Sustainability: Norway plans to implement carbon capture and storage technology to make phosphorous refining sustainable.
  • Phosphorous refining is usually carbon-intensive, which is why much of the industry is located in places like China, Vietnam, and Kazakhstan.
  • Jan Christian Vestre, Norway's minister of trade and industry, stated it was their "obligation" to develop a sustainable mineral industry.

  • Details of the Deposit: The deposit, impossible to drill due to its depth, was only partially evaluated.
  • The deposit stretches 4,500 meters (2.7 miles) underground.
  • Geologists only assessed a third of the volume, reaching down 1,500 meters, where the confirmed 70 billion tonnes of phosphate rock are located.

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