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Huge phosphate rock deposits found in Norway secure supply for EV batteries

4 July, 2023

Huge phosphate rock deposits found in Norway secure supply for EV batteries

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Norway has discovered a massive underground deposit of high-grade phosphate rock, which is believed to be the world’s largest.

The deposit was discovered by the Norwegian company Norge Mining and initially was estimated to be much smaller. The company discovered that the ore body in the ground, which was initially believed to reach a depth of only 300 meters below the surface, actually extended much deeper to approximately 4,500 meters. It is estimated to contain at least 70 billion tonnes of phosphate rock, making it sufficient to meet global demand for fertilizers, solar panels, and electric car batteries for the next 100 years. It also contains vanadium and titanium, but the company haven’t disclosed in what percentage.

The discovery is significant as it provides autonomy and sustainability to the Western market, reducing dependence on major producing countries like China and the US. Back in 2020, the European Commission classified phosphorus as a critical raw material for the green and digital transition. This is why it is introducing the Critical Raw Materials Act in order to increase security of supply for critical raw materials through stringent monitoring of supply risks and improved access to finance and permitting processes. So far, the phosphorus industry is currently concentrated in China, Vietnam, and Kazakhstan, with limited production in Europe due to environmental concerns. However, with this discovery, Norway aims to apply carbon capture and storage technology to ensure more sustainable mining and refining practices and bring Europe to the top of the list of phosphate producers.

Why are these phosphate rock deposits so important?

Apart from the use in EV batteries, phosphate carries significant importance in agriculture. It is a key component in fertilizers and plays a critical role in promoting plant growth and increasing crop yields. It is an essential nutrient for plants, necessary for processes like photosynthesis, energy transfer, and root development. Phosphate fertilizers help replenish the phosphorus levels in the soil, ensuring healthy plant growth and enhancing agricultural productivity. Over the past 50 years, the application of phosphate fertilizers has played a crucial role in boosting crop yields, effectively feeding millions, if not billions, of people by securing global food production in a demanding and increasing global population.

Phosphate is also key to various industrial applications. It is used in the production of detergents, where it acts as a water softener and enhances cleaning efficiency. Phosphate compounds are also utilized in the manufacturing of ceramics, metals, and chemicals. Additionally, phosphate-based chemicals play a role in water treatment processes, helping to remove impurities and improve water quality.

Phosphate is also incredibly important for all living things. It is needed for various essential processes in plants and animals.It helps cells store and transfer energy, which is necessary for cells to function and do their job. It is also one of the building blocks of DNA and RNA, which are like instruction manuals for cells. It helps store and pass on important genetic information. It is necessary in making cell membranes, which act like walls around cells. These membranes are important for keeping cells intact and controlling what goes in and out. It helps maintain healthy bones and teeth by giving them strength and structure. Without enough phosphate, plants, animals and other living things would struggle to grow, develop and stay healthy. It’s a fundamental nutrient that plays a vital role in keeping organisms alive and functioning properly.

What do these Norwegian phosphate rock deposits mean for the EV battery industry?

As mentioned in our article about LiFePO4 batteries, their clear advantages over Lithium-ion batteries make them one of the most promising technologies for use in electric vehicles. The Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) Batteries market is projected to reach USD 35.5 billion in 2028, growing from USD 17.7 billion in 2023.

The market for LiFePO4 batteries is driven by the need for battery-operated material-handling equipment and of course the worldwide transition to renewable power generation. High-power applications, such as EVs and energy storage, contribute to the growth of 50,001–100,000 mAh batteries. Until now, the Asia Pacific region was leading the market, with China, Japan, and South Korea being major battery manufacturers. With this new discovery, Norway enters the market as a leader in phosphate mining.

The location of the phosphate rock deposits discovered in Norway

The location of the phosphate rock deposits discovered in Norway

As can be seen from the map above, the location of the discovered deposits is really advantageous as it will facilitate exports to the rest of the EU, as well as to the US. It will also significantly reduce the shipping costs for EV companies who wish to build their cars in Europe and equip them with Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) Batteries.