Norge Mining Discovers Major Phosphate Deposit, Can Meet Global Demand for 50 Years

by | Jul 7, 2023

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Norge Mining recently completed its exploration of a phosphate deposit in Norway, discovering more than 70 billion tons of the mineral, potentially meeting clean energy demands.

The discovery comes as a relief to the European Union as the region’s phosphate market has been in a dire situation facing rising growing demand. Around 90% of phosphate is used in agriculture, so as food demand increases globally, so does the demand for the mineral. Political instability in some countries and high tariffs on the mineral exports from others also makes for an unpredictable supply.

Before this discovery, phosphate rock mining was largely concentrated in Morocco, the U.S., China, and Russia, making the EU dependent on other countries’ phosphate exports.

While certainly a relief to the agricultural industry, the deposit can also be used for raw materials in the green energy sector, specifically for solar panels and batteries. Phosphorus is used in lithium-ion phosphate batteries common in green technologies, and the deposit has the potential to meet phosphorous demand for batteries and solar panels for the next 50 years. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, global phosphate reserves currently amount to about 71 tons, about the same amount as the new deposit.

Norway’s government is reportedly fast-tracking a mine in Helleland, and once analysis is done on the 47-mile site, mining should begin by 2028.

Phosphate Benefits Green Energy with Environmental Cost

This recent discovery, although exciting in terms of meeting global demand, touches on the paradox of mining for green energy materials. Although the materials contribute to creating green alternatives to fossil fuel-dependent technologies, the refining process for phosphorous is highly carbon intensive. Further, phosphate mining involves clearing land and digging up huge amounts of soil, then uses large amounts of water and energy when refined.

While much of the destruction caused by mining is unavoidable, Norge Mining and Norway’s government admit to this challenge and address ways in which to mine phosphorous more sustainably. Michael Wurmser, founder of Norge Mining told Euractiv that earlier production of the material in Europe was stopped because of heavy pollution.

He told reporters that Norge Mining plans to use carbon capture and storage to reduce carbon emissions in the refining process. Jan Christian, Norway’s minister of trade and industry, reportedly stated that the country’s obligation was to develop “the world’s most sustainable mineral industry” in light of the discovery.

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