My words, thoughts and photos from a Swedish perspective

The old mines

Gruva 1

I have a house in Kopparberg, 230 kilometres NW of Stockholm and I go there as often as I can. That area was once full of mines but they are all closed and abandoned now. The mine in Kopparberg closed in 1975 ending a tradition of mining in the village dating back to the 17th century. There is a road up to the old mine and there are paths one can take for a walk around and I got welcomed by this “cat”.

Gruva 2

Here are all the old holes after the mines well fenced and there are even signs with the name of the mine and its history hanging on the fences. Still, one cannot be too careful when walking in this part of the country. There are plenty of holes from old mines that aren’t fenced so one has to keep one’s eyes open.

Gruva 3

Copper preserves things well. There is a shaft in the copper mine in Falun called “the Christmas present” because they found more copper there one Christmas. It is now a museum and they have a Christmas tree in it as some sort of gimmick. The X-mas trees lasts for years down in the mine before it’s time to replace it.

There is also a story from the same mine that a shaft caved in one day, but it took a couple of decades before they decided to clear it up. During these works, the body of a young man was found, but there was no one reported missing, which confused the miners. The body was brought up to the ground to be identified (even if that word wasn’t invented yet) and then buried. An old woman recognized the young man as the one she had been in love with in her youth. He went to work in the mine one day and never returned and now she knew what had happened to him.

Gruva 4

This pit was probably being worked on before they began using explosives. Fires were lit and maintained for a couple of hours to make the wall hot before it was cooled off quickly which caused cracks that the miners could work their way through. This method gave soft and even walls and that’s what we can see here.

Gruva 5

This pit is called Älggruvan (Moose mine) and was used during the first half of the 18th century. A new pit was opened next to it during the second half of the 18th century, but the light was so bad that I couldn’t get any pictures of it.

Gruva 6

Nope, no magic effects used on the rock. The colour spots are from the metal hidden in the ore.

Gruva 7

Left overs with very little ore in them are a slowly ticking bomb for the environment today. Some has been “cased in” by vegetation and are therefore not leaking or posing any threat to the environment while others are still exposed to the elements who carry their less healthy contents with them.

Gruva 8

Gruva 9

There is no ore to lift anymore but they are still there to remind us of the mining era…

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4 responses

  1. Very interesting history of the are mines. I’m a bit confused, was it a copper mine or some other kind of ore?

    19/10/2009 at 13:53

  2. Staffan H

    Lynn: Apologies! I should have paid more attention to what I was writing.

    Yes, it was a copper mine – I was just too deep in the way they talk about things there. Everything that has metal in it is “ore” when it comes out of the mine (the metal is sometimes indicated), the rest is just “rocks”.

    I think it is because it was important to separate what contained metal from the rest of the rock. If not, the result would have been an awful lot of slag and other impurities when melted down in the blast furnace.

    20/10/2009 at 00:05

  3. It sounded like copper, but I didn’t know that copper came from Sweden. Growing up in Minnesota, we had taconite, an iron ore, and I didn’t know that all metal mined was called ore. In other words, thank you for the explanation.

    20/10/2009 at 02:31

  4. Staffan H

    Lynn: Copper used to come from Sweden, but I don’t think we have any copper mines in use today. We only produce iron and steel nowdays. The high world market prices on metals have, however, made mining interesting again so prospecting has begun, mostly way up north.

    What metal mined is called is probably different from country to country, but my grandfather was a mining engineer and I suspect that this has had an influence on me. 😉

    20/10/2009 at 07:24

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