In a move that could signal a shift in Sweden’s energy landscape, Climate Minister Romina Pourmokhtari announced plans to lift the country’s longstanding ban on uranium mining. This strategic decision is seen as an effort to accommodate the nation’s increasing nuclear energy aspirations.
Pourmokhtari confirmed to The Times that a majority within the government supports the removal of the uranium mining ban. This announcement came shortly after Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson expressed the administration’s intent in January, stating that they are in the process of “altering the legislation” to bolster nuclear investments within the country.
The Climate Minister further highlighted the government’s ambitious energy plans, stating, “The government is aiming at doubling electricity production in 20 years.”
Sweden’s Nuclear History
Sweden’s reliance on nuclear power is not new. The country’s nuclear power reactors currently account for approximately 40% of its total electricity supply. However, a decision made in 1980 to phase out nuclear power saw a dramatic reversal three decades later. In June 2010, the Swedish Parliament voted to repeal the phase-out policy, marking the nation’s continued commitment to nuclear energy.
Nuclear Expansion and Mining Opportunities
To support this ambitious energy transition, the government has laid down a roadmap for the construction of at least ten large reactors over the next two decades. The lifting of the mining ban could be the key to achieving this, especially considering that Sweden houses a whopping 80% of the European Union’s uranium deposits.
While uranium has traditionally been extracted as a byproduct during the mining of other metals, dedicated uranium mining projects are poised to take off, and the lifting of the ban could spur further investment.
What it Means for the European Market
Sweden’s potential mining resurgence doesn’t stop at uranium. The country is also believed to possess Europe’s largest deposit of rare earths, minerals that are pivotal for the shift to zero-emission technologies. This development could solidify Sweden’s position as a critical player in Europe’s green transition.
Sweden’s move to lift the uranium mining ban could change its domestic energy landscape, the broader European mining industry, and the global shift towards sustainable technologies. Now, mining companies will watch closely for the vote and whether some of the largest reserves may become available for exploration after many decades.