Tasman Metals’ Norra Kärr is ‘the only advanced rare earths project within the EU’
According to a recently published European Commission report, entitled ‘Critical Metals in the Path towards the Decarbonization of the EU Energy Sector,’ in order to increase energy supply security, address climate change and to provide for the sustainability and competitiveness of the European economy, “the EU has made the transition to a low-carbon economy a central policy priority.” The report discussed critical metals which would become a bottleneck to the supply chain of low-carbon energy technologies addressed by the EU’s Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan), namely: wind, solar (both photovoltaic and concentrated solar power), carbon capture and storage (CCS), nuclear fission, bioenergy and the electricity grid. Fourteen metals were identified to be a cause for concern; however, after taking into account market and geopolitical parameters, six rare earths — terbium, dysprosium, europium, neodymium, yttrium, and praseodymium — have a high criticality rating and are, therefore, classified as ‘critical’. Interesting to note, graphite was also included, reflecting its status as one of the critical raw materials identified by the EU Raw Materials Initiative.
In an effort to mitigate supply chain risks for these critical materials, increasing primary (domestic) supply was top on the list of priorities, addressing the facts that there are no active rare earth (REE) mines in Europe and the development of REE mines within Europe is in its early stages. The commission’s 246-page report cites Tasman Metals Ltd.’s (TSXV: TSM | NYSE MKT: TAS) flagship Norra Kärr heavy rare earth project in Sweden as one of “the most promising projects” and “the only advanced rare earths project located within the European Union,” noting its high proportion of heavy rare earths (HREEs).
Understandably, Tasman Metals maintains a high profile in the EC. Norra Kärr is one of only four deposits selected by the EC’s EURARE research project intended to ‘develop a sustainable exploitation scheme for Europe’s rare earths ore deposits.’
With the only NI 43-101-compliant resource in mainland Europe, NorraKärr (alone) is anticipated to be able to fill much of the European demand for REEs for, at least, the next 40 years. Located 300 kilometers south of Stockholm, Norra Kärr represents the fourth largest HREE deposit globally and contains one of the highest percentages of HREEs to total rare earth elements (at over 50%). Uniquely positioned in a supportive, stable and efficient mining environment with established infrastructure, Tasman’s project is among the highest in proportion of higher-value critical rare earth elements of all advanced REE projects. That said, what makes Tasman even more appealing to many is its very low CAPEX — one of the lowest amongst its peers — at $266 million. More remote, substantially higher CAPEX projects appear less likely to be funded, leaving plenty of opportunity for more modest CAPEX projects, like Tasman’s, to actually go into production. Tasman’s strategy is simple: demonstrate its product quality on small scale and expand production with demand, as necessary. Scaling production is virtually impossible for the significantly higher CAPEX rare earth projects that need to reduce unit costs by increasing scale. Presenting attractive supply options for EU and Japanese REE consumers, Tasman has the potential to become one of the leaders in the rare earth industry.
It’s also worth noting, and as InvestorIntel’s Robin Bromby mentioned here earlier today, last month Tasman had announced it had expanded its critical metal portfolio with the acquisition of 6 tungsten projects, also in Sweden (located 200 to 300 kilometers from Norra Kärr). Tasman executed an agreement to acquire a 100% interest in a portfolio of tungsten projects, containing several of the largest known tungsten occurrences in Scandinavia, including the former Yxsjoberg mine, which accounts for more than 90% of the tungsten previously produced in Sweden.
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