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picture News May, 30 2023
News from Below Ground to Upper Space News from Below Ground to Upper Space

During the first six months of 2023, Sweden holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the first meeting of the Council during this Swedish Presidency took place in Kiruna during the second week of January.

Located some 200 km north of the Arctic Circle, Kiruna is home to LKAB - Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara Aktiebolag, operating the world’s largest underground iron ore mine. And, Kiruna is also home to Spaceport Esrange. During the EU Council’s meeting, both LKAB and Esrange shared some news:


Iron ore have been mined in Malmfälten (literally: the Iron Ore Fields) since 1890 and today LKAB produces 80% of Europe’s iron ore. At the EU Council’s Kiruna meeting, LKAB revealed that they have now also identified Europe’s largest deposit of rare earth metals, located in the Kiruna area.

- This is good news, not only for LKAB, the region and the Swedish people, but also for Europe and the climate. This is the largest known deposit of rare earth elements in our part of the world, and it could become a significant building block for producing the critical raw materials that are absolutely crucial to enable the green transition. Without rare earth metals, there can, for example, be no electric vehicles, said Jan Moström, President and Group CEO, LKAB.


Esrange is located some 40 km east of Kiruna and have since the 1960’s been involved in research rocket launches, satellite tracking, and scientific investigations of Aurora Borealis/The Northern Lights. Spaceport Esrange is now ready for satellite launches, the first facility of its kind in mainland Europe.

- Kiruna is already one of Europe’s strategic gateways to space. And the new launch complex at Esrange is a critical asset that will strengthen Europe’s capability to launch satellites and improve our space competitiveness. I am certain that this spaceport will strengthen Sweden’s active role in space, involved in many of ESA’s flagship projects and through our ground station here in Kiruna, said Josef Aschbacher, Director General of ESA -.The European Space Agency, at the Kiruna meeting.


More information on the rare earth metals deposit is found here: And information on Esrange’s satellite launch capabilities is found here:

Furthermore, the coming spring and summer issue of focus, the magazine of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Estonia, will take a look at Sweden’s six-months Presidency of the Council of the EU.



Kristiina Brodén – SCCE Ombudsman

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