A Norwegian mining company claims to have discovered a gargantuan deposit of phosphate rock that could power the world’s battery and solar needs for the next 50 years, potentially pushing back what was previously described as a “ticking time bomb”. Phosphate is an integral part of the global push for renewables, alongside being a key ingredient in fertilizer.
Norge Mining claimed, in various statements to local media outlets, that the deposit could contain at least 70 billion tonnes of phosphate, making it close to being more than all other confirmed global sources combined (around 72 billion tonnes). Current estimates place the next largest in Morocco, then in China (3.2 billion tonnes), Egypt (2.8 billion tonnes), and Algeria (2.2 billion tonnes).
Phosphate is currently trading for around $345 (£270) per metric tonne, so such a deposit could be worth in the region of $24 trillion. Not only would it make the company a pretty penny, it could help lessen Europe’s reliance on other nations to fulfil demand for a vital mineral.
The EU has since confirmed the discovery and claimed that it is “great news” as it will help towards the Critical Raw Material Act, which looks to mitigate supply risks in important materials. With uncertainty in relations between the US, EU, Russia, and China, securing supply of fertilizer is incredibly important.
“This is why we believe the phosphorous that we can produce will be important to the West – it provides autonomy,” Michael Wurmser, founder of Norge Mining, told media outlet EURACTIV in an interview.
Phosphorus’ main use is in fertilizer, with around 90 percent of the global supply going to this use. However, it is also used in increasingly prevalent electronics, such as batteries, solar power and computer chips. As the world pushes for renewable energy production, securing a supply of key materials will become a high priority for nations.
With such a large deposit found in Norway, it could secure the needs of the world for decades, once it is tapped into.