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Jakob Ehrensvärd | profile | all galleries >> Abandoned mines tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Abandoned mines

It is fair to claim that Sweden's current wealth was more or less founded on iron and steel, and in particular mining of iron ore and manufacturing of quality steel. During several periods over the last 400 years, Sweden has been a major exporter of both ore- and steel products. During the period around 1650-1750, Sweden supplied 50% of the "western" world's iron. However, it is important to understand that the total world production was then about 100.000 metric tons yearly. A stunning thought as this quantity would take the current mine at Kirunavaara just two days to produce. Not to mention how few people are needed to do the same job today...

Although Sweden is very rich in minerals and several minerals have been mined over the years, the by far largest resource is iron. Sweden's large supply of timber allowed a steady supply of wooden coal, which enabled small foundries to produce top class steel in small batches. The purity of charcoal and ores with exceptionally low contents of impurities were both central competetive advantages over the continental iron works until new steel foundry processes were introduced in the end of the 1900 century.

The golden days of iron ore did not as some think occured during WWII, but from the late 1940s to the early 1960s where Sweden dominated the world's iron ore exports. A time when enormous prosperity was formed and massive investments were made, which some twenty years later ended up in a deep recession.

New methods of processing iron, the massive increase in size of ships together with tougher world-market competition on iron-ore and steel products started to become alarmingly evident from around 1960, which forced smaller and medium-sized mines and steelworks in central Sweden to close from around 1965 and onwards. The recession in the 70s triggered a wave of closures, and the last mid-Swedish mine was closed in 1992.

Except for a handful sulphide ore mines (where Aitik [copper mainly] and Zinkgruvan [zinc mainly] are large, even by international standards), today only two iron mines are left - Kirunavaara and Vitåfors at Kiruna and Gällivare respectively (up in the very north of Sweden). Although hundreds of mines have been closed the last centuries, and today's annual output is less than the 40MT peak in 1975, the overall "health" of the industry is now on top.

Most of the environment and buildings around these abandoned mines are still intact, yet in a very late stage of deterioration by snow, frost, wind and rain. When walking around the usually dead silent surroundings, there is a feeling that the last person who left simply turned of the lamp and locked up. It is just a matter of years to come before these unique landmarks of modern industrial history are gone forever...
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Wooden structures
gallery: Wooden structures
Concrete ruins of the very past
gallery: Concrete ruins of the very past
Deep down
gallery: Deep down
Raw concrete
gallery: Raw concrete
Polhemsgruvan
gallery: Polhemsgruvan
Stripa
gallery: Stripa
Stråssa
gallery: Stråssa
Haggruvan
gallery: Haggruvan
Ställberg
gallery: Ställberg
Mossgruvan
gallery: Mossgruvan
Ösjöberg
gallery: Ösjöberg
Larsbo
gallery: Larsbo
Vintjärn
gallery: Vintjärn
Yxsjöberg
gallery: Yxsjöberg
Ickorrbotten
gallery: Ickorrbotten
Persberg
gallery: Persberg
Norberg and surroundings
gallery: Norberg and surroundings
Striberg
gallery: Striberg
Grängesberg
gallery: Grängesberg
Håksberg
gallery: Håksberg
Källbotten
gallery: Källbotten
Dannemora
gallery: Dannemora
Tuna Hästberg
gallery: Tuna Hästberg
Ramhäll
gallery: Ramhäll
Idkerberget
gallery: Idkerberget
Forsbo
gallery: Forsbo
Bodås
gallery: Bodås
Vingesbacke and vicinity
gallery: Vingesbacke and vicinity
Blötberget
gallery: Blötberget
Källfallet
gallery: Källfallet
Bäckegruvan and vicinity
gallery: Bäckegruvan and vicinity
Kantorp
gallery: Kantorp
Bispberg
gallery: Bispberg
Bergsäng
gallery: Bergsäng
Nordmarksberg
gallery: Nordmarksberg
Finnmossen
gallery: Finnmossen
Smältarmossen
gallery: Smältarmossen
Basttjärn
gallery: Basttjärn
Taberg
gallery: Taberg
Värmlandsberg
gallery: Värmlandsberg
Kiruna
gallery: Kiruna
Lustigkulla
gallery: Lustigkulla
Pershyttan
gallery: Pershyttan
Intrånget
gallery: Intrånget
Sala silver mine
gallery: Sala silver mine
Åsboberg
gallery: Åsboberg
Rödberg
gallery: Rödberg
Iviken
gallery: Iviken
Storgruvan and Hultebo
gallery: Storgruvan and Hultebo
Bastnäs and vicinity
gallery: Bastnäs and vicinity
Långblå
gallery: Långblå
Nyberget – Storgruvan
gallery: Nyberget – Storgruvan
Hällsjögruvan
gallery: Hällsjögruvan
Lekomberg
gallery: Lekomberg