Zinkgruvan means "The Zinc Mine" in Swedish and is both the name of the village and the deep mine in the middle of Sweden. Crude zinc, or "zinc concentrate" is the main output, but considerably amount of lead and small amounts of silver is refined from the ore as well.
Mining is performed on considerable depth with the deepest levels currently at around 950 meters. Some 800.000 metric tons of ore is mined yearly and an on-site concentration plant processes the ore into some 70.000 mt of zinc and 35.000 mt of lead.
The mine is a bit unusual by Swedish standards as it was owned by a non-Swedish consortium. The mine opened in 1857 by the Belgian mining company Vieille Montagne and has been in full operation since then. The mine was bought by the Australian mining company North Ltd in 1995 and shifted hands again in 2004, where the Swedish mining newcomer Lundin Mining acquired it.
Acquiring a zinc mine in 2004 must be somewhat fantastic in terms of timing. Where the zinc price seems to have been fairly stable and has been traded for around 500 USD per mt, the boom in China have caused the price to soar since then. In December 2006, zinc was traded for around 4500 USD / mt ! However, metal prices are volatile and there has been a recent slump in prices and zinc prices are now down to 3000 USD in just two months.
Special thanks to Jouni, Tuulikki, Bruno and Dan for a great tour in this modern and well-run mine.