Norway has unearthed a huge deposit of the valuable mineral phosphate, with the potential to fuel electric vehicles and solar panels for decades.
Norge Mining, the company behind the discovery, estimates a staggering 70 billion tonnes of phosphorus, capable of satisfying demand for the next half-century. This find holds crucial economic importance, as phosphorus ranks on the European Union’s list of vital minerals.
Prior to this breakthrough, the largest known phosphate rock reservoir, around 50 billion tonnes, was located in Western Sahara, Africa’s northwest coast. Comparative estimates indicate China possesses 3.2 billion tonnes of phosphate, while Egypt holds 2.8 billion tonnes, according to the US Geological Survey.
Phosphorus is an essential component derived from phosphate rock, a finite resource with finite quantities worldwide. Approximately 90% of mined phosphate caters to fertiliser production for the agricultural sector. Given its dwindling availability globally, concerns arise regarding potential food scarcity due to dependence on phosphate.
This Norwegian discovery represents a pivotal stride towards securing vital resources for sustainable technologies, though the broader issue of resource depletion remains a looming challenge.
Environmental concerns have arisen due to the runoff of phosphate fertiliser into water bodies, triggering harmful algae blooms in rivers. Additionally, phosphorus has emerged as a vital component for various cutting-edge technologies, including solar panels, computer chips, and lithium-iron phosphate batteries, crucial for electric vehicles.
The global economy relies on approximately 50 million tonnes of phosphorus annually. While the adoption of electric cars and solar panels holds environmental promise, the process of refining phosphorus and extracting the material can be highly polluting.
Addressing this issue, Norge Mining has committed to mitigating carbon emissions from the refining process through carbon capture and storage techniques.
Notably, the discovered deposit encompasses not only phosphate but also valuable resources such as vanadium and titanium, both classified as critical raw materials by the European Union. This underlines the broader economic and strategic significance of the find.
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