FALU COPPER MINE 



THE STORA KOPPARBERG MUEUM

The main building of the museum, formerly the Mine Office, was erected between the years 1771 and 1785, according to plans by Tobias Geisler, a mine surveyor. It was used originally as the administrative building of Stora Kopparbergs Bergslag. Early in the nineteenth century, the administration of the Company was transferred to the town centre, and the building was allowed to fall into disrepair. In 1922, however, it was restored to house the museum.
Continued open-cast working of the Falun Mine made it necessary in 1964-66 to move the old buildings at the edge of the "Great Pit" some three hundred feet. The museum building, which had been damaged by the subsidence of the earth, could not be preserved wholly, but was replaced by a reconstruction embodying important parts of the old building, the roof, belltower, doors and parts of the furnishings are original. The plans of the whole upper storey and part of the ground floor are based on old drawings and descriptions.

There are 20 rooms in the building of which 16 are open for the public. For a detailed description please kontact the museum.


FALU MINE

Text: Tommy Forss. Illustrations: Mats Stenqvist.
© The Falu Copper Mine Foundation.

 

OLD MINE ENTRANCE

The open-cast part of the mine, the "Great Pit", is 95 metres deep, 400 metres long and 350 metres wide. Extraction is carried out partly in the open pit and partly underground. The main shaft is 450 metres deep. There is an exploratory level 150 metres below that.

In older times, the mine was famous throughout the world for its copper. How the deposit was discovered will probably never be known, but pollen analysis and dating by means of radioactive carbon (the carbon-14 method) indicate that extraction probably began a decade or so before that year 1100. It is quite possible that further investigations might indicate a still earlier date. By the 13th century, mining operations had attained considerable proportions; a document from this time, covering a barter transaction and issued by Bishop Peter of Vasteras, is dated 1288. The document is attested by the King and the bishops of Sweden, indicating that even then the mine was of great importance to the economy of the country. Soon the rich copper deposit aroused international interest, particularly among the merchants in the Hanseatic League. Trade was mainly by way of Lübeck.

In 1347, King Magnus Eriksson issued a famous letter of patent for the Copper Mountain, still in the Company's possession. This document includes the King's directions as to how the "Mountain" was to be worked.

The mine was worked by the individual mining masters in relation to their copper smelter holdings. The King was the supreme authority, however, and appointed administrators to supervise work in the mine.

The economic and political importance of the mine increased steadily, particularly during the late 15th and 16th centuries. During the latter part of the 16th century, new, rich ores were discovered, but the really great period of the mine came in the 17th century, with a peak around the middle, when 3,000 tons of crude copper were extracted from the ores mined. The income derived from the Copper Mountain contributed essentially to the economic basis on which Sweden, then emerging as a great power, could pursue its expansive foreign policy. At times the mine accounted for almost two-thirds of the total world output of copper.

Owing to the intensive rate of extraction during this period, extensive cave-ins were frequent, the largest one occurring in 1687, when the walls dividing the three largest open pits along with underlying galleries collapsed, forming the present"Great Pit".

The mine has gradually lost its importance as a source of copper. Other ores have taken precedence.

Nowadays the mine is worked for the sake of its rich deposits of iron pyrite and zinc, lead and copper ores. Surface bench mining along the walls of the Great Pit accounts for approximately 45 % of the total output of ore, which now amounts to approx. 200,000 tons per year. The pit is being enlarged continuously by this mining operation.



The "Great Pit" and surrounding buildings:

 
 1. Museum  9. Miner's lodge
 2. 18th century residential house  10. Fredrik Water Wheel
 3. Creutz Shaft Head  11. Adolf Fredrik Shaft Head
 4. Creuts Water Wheel  12. Konstmastargarden
 5. Husberg's pivot  13. 18th century residential house
 6. Creutz hoist  14. Approach to Visitor's Mine
 7. Dressing plant  U. Lookout site
 8. Oscar Shaft Head  P. Parking lot
 

In front of the Stora Kopparberg Museum lies the Old Mine Entrance (14). The building was orginally erected in 1812 and has remained unchanged since 1845. At that time, it was located above a shaft that served as the main personnel entrance into the mme.
Farther back in time, the most common connections between the surface and underground portions of the mine were via the slopes of the various pits and via the hoist barrels. The Old Mine Entrance also contains a changing room and an oven for thawing dynamite.
Opencast mining operations made it necessary to move the older buildings at the edge of the Great Pit. The original Old Mine Entrance was then torn down and reerected on its new site in 1968-1969. Today the Old Mine Entrance contains a reception, WC, changing room for visitors and lift.

The Creutz Shaft (3) is the only shaft preserved from former times, and its superstructure, called the shaft head, is typical in terms of interior design, building style and hoist equipment of this mine and of the stage of development it had reached in the mid-nineteenth century. It has since remained unchanged up to the present time.
The building, which was designed by C.J. Husberg, has a weather vane with the date of the year of construction, 1852, making it one of the first buildings in Sweden containing equipment for rock and water haulage above a mine opening.
The Creutz shaft was dug in 1662, and was then only about 16 metres deep. Not until 1780 did it reach its greatest depth around 208 metres.
It got its name from Baron Lorentz Creutz, govenor of Kopparberg County in 1655.
There is a bell in the shaft head that used to function as a monitoring device for the water pumps in the shaft. The bell was operated by the water that was pumped up out of the mine, and if it fell silent there was something wrong that had to be fixed by the pump attendant. A walking beam mechanism between the shaft head and the water wheel drove the pumps as well as the ore hoist.

The Creutz Water Wheel (4) is situated about 20 meters from the Creutz Shaft Head. The building was erected in 1845 by C.J. Husberg (rebuilt in 1882 by A. Forsgren) with an overshot wheel with a diameter of nearly 15 metres. The stroke of the cranks (= the travel of the walking beams and the suction lift of the pumps) was 6 feet, with 45 strokes per minute and a delivery rate of about 50 lifers per minute. This water wheel mechanism was in service until 1916.
The walking beam mechanism was reconstructed in 1975, and has remained the same to this day.

The Creutz Hoist (6), south of the Creutz shaft, was erected in 1855 by H. Steffansson (rebuilt by A. Forsgren in 1875). The wheel has a diameter of 14 metres. This hoist was last used in 1916, and served several hoist shafts through a nearby "pivot". The same shaft that carried the water wheel carried a tapered wheel with ironclad grooves on which the rope to the shaft head was coiled. This rope ran to Husberg's pivot, from which it ran to the four hoist shafts. The Creutz water wheel was restored in 1980-81.

Husberg's Pivot (5). In 1845, C.J. Husberg built this pivot, which served 4 hoisting shafts from the nearby hoist. The building stood up on the heap. (The waste heaps are no longer there.) The pivot was torn down in 1924, but rebuill in 1935 as a beautiful monument on the same site.

In the Dressing Plant (7), all ore from the Falun Mine is concentrated by means of the flotation method. The final products are finegrained concentrates of chalcopyrite, galenite, zinc blende and iron pyrite.

The Oscar Shaft Head (8) was built in 1970 and is 40 metres high. The shaft head stands above the Falun Mine's present-day main shaft, the Oscar shaft, which is 455 metres deep and was sunk in 1905. The shaft head contains pumps and hoists for ore and personnel transport. At present, the Falun Mine has an ore output of about 200,000 tons per year.

The Miner's Lodge (9) was built in 1919 and added to in 1970. It contains changing rooms and offices.

The Fredrik Water Wheel (10) was built in 1853 and rebuilt in 1891. The water wheel drove the pumps in the Fredrik shaft, which was then 335 metres deep.

The Adolf Fredrik Shaft Head (11) was built above the 280 metre deep Adolf Fredrik shaft in 1845, but has since been moved to its present site.

The Konstmastargarden (The Machine Director's House) (12) has been moved several times since it was built in 1703-04. The building took on its present form in the 1870s.
Orginally, the building was the residence of the mine's machine director. In 1960, the mine office was moved into the 18th century house, which now also contains a dining hall.


TOUR OF THE MINE


Text: Tommy Forss. Illustrations: Mats Stenqvist.
© The Falu Copper Mine Foundation.

1. The Great Pit

The Falun Mine is chicfly noted for its enormous opening, the Great Pit, which is around 325 feet deep and 1,000 to 1,300 feet wide.
The Pit was given its present shape by an extensive cave-in which occurred on June 25, 1687, when the galleries and chambers collapsed down to a depth of 1,000 feet along with the rock walls dividing the three former open pits. This cave-in was the largest in a series which took place during the 17th century. They were a result of the mining technique itself, since work was largely carried out in large chambers opened up beneath each other.

2. The Access
Access to the mine is from the open space in front of the STORA Museum. The building was originally erected in 1812 and given its present form in 1845. It was then located above a shaft which constituted the main personnel entrance to the mine. Today a modern lift takes us down to the 180-foot level from where a newly driven tunnel (drift in mining language) leads to the oldest parts of the mine.

3. The Creutz Shaft
The tour first takes visitors to the Creutz Shaft which was opened in 1662 and named for the then Governor of Kopparberg County, Lorenz Creutz the Elder. 680 feet in depth, this is the only one still extant of the large shafts that were opened up in the 17th century on the fringe of the central ore body. This provided safer hoisting routes than earlier when openings made direct in the ore had been utilized exclusively.
The shaft is bisected by an enormous wooden wall erected during the period of 1833-1836 and presumably the world's tallest wodden structure. On one side of the wall there were manways and pumps, on the other personnel and ore were housted in freely suspended barrels. The wall was intended to protect the vulnerable pumps.

4. The General Peace
From the Creutz Shaft the tour continues to the General peace chamber adjoining the medieval Long Mine - abandoned in the 1740's but reopened in 1800. 70 feet high and 215 feet long, the General Peace gives a good indication of what the large chambers used to look like in the classical mining era, e.g. in the 17th century. The chamber was given its present shape during the period 1800-1805 and was originally named for a peace treaty between Britain and France in 1801. Peace under this treaty was short-lived and for this reason the name was later assumed to refer to the peace treaty concluded at the Congress of Vienna in 1815.
Into the General Peace drifts and manways debouch at different levels and from different directions. The smooth, elegant arches and the frequently very thin partitions provide good opportunities for studying the results of an earlier mining technique. An immense wooden structure composed of huge layers of logs and filled with gangue serves to support the roof. Here the heart of an old forge remains standingwhere the miners' drills were sharpened. Against one of the walls wood is piled for firesetting according to ancient descriptions.

5. The Christmas Gift
By ancient tradition all shafts, drifts and chambers have names of their own - all in all there are more than 4,000 named working places in the Falun Mine. According to tradition the Christmas Gift chamber adjacent to the General Peace was so named because ore was found there at Christmas time. Since the end of the last century the Christmas Gift has served as a "guest book" where royal visitor have written their names on the wall. Since the days of King Gustavus I almost all Swedish monarchs have visited the Falun Mine. King Carl XVI Gustaf paid a second visit to the mine in June 1988. The last royal visit took place in 1993 when Queen Silvia and Crownprincess Victoria visited the mine.

6. The Ralamb Shaft
From the General Peace and the Christmas Gift the tour continues up a flight of stairs in the Ralamb Shaft. This shaft can also be used as an exit from the visitors' mine. Operations in this shaft began in 1732. It was named after the then President of the Royal Mine Board.

7. The Eugen Drift
On leaving the Ralamb Shaft the tour enters the Ralamb Drift and passes the Eugen Drift. This drift was opened in 1875 for exploratory purposes, under the name of The ChristmasTree. In 1879, the first experiments with machine drilling in the Falun Mine were made here. Drifting continued until 1881. When the work ended, the drift was over 590 feet long. On the occasion of Prince Eugen's visit to the mine 1880, the name of the drift was changed.

8. Osman Pasha
This drift is named after a Turkish army commander who played a prominent role in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78. It was opened from the Stranger's Sunk Shaft in 1878 with the object of locating the ore in Ralamb. Success came after drifting some 20 feet. Extraction in Osman Pasha continued until 1886.

9. The Stranger's Sunk Shaft
To a large extent the tour takes us through drifts opened up by manual drilling and blasting or by means of firesetting. According to the latter method a fire was built up against the face of the mineral. The brittle rock could then be broken up with wedges and pickers. The drifts tunnelled by firesetting were given a uniform, elliptical shape. One example of this is the roof of the Stranger's Sunk Shaft, one of the typical work sites encountered during the tour of the mine. A sunk shaft was produced when an ore deposit was followed which ran steeply down into the rock.


1,000 Years of Continuous Mining

The Falun Mine, certain older parts of which are open to the public, is a unique historical monument.

It is the oldest sections maintained, where work has been in progress at various timed from the Middle Ages up to the end of the 19th century, that have been opened to visitors.

No one can tell exactly when and how the Falun Mine was discovered or began to be worked. Investigations carried out by geological methods indicate that mining operations were started sometime between 850 and 1080 A.D., that is towards the end of the Viking Age.

During the latter part of the 13th century contemporary documents begin to give indication of the fortunes of the mine. By that time mining was no longer a local affair, operations being carried out along the lines of a presentday company. Shares in the mine were held by great men of the realm. In a letter from 1288 Bishop Peter of Vasteras thus confirms the repurchase of one eighth of the Copper Mountain. This was obviously an important transaction: the document bore the seals of the King and eight bishops. This is the oldest document extant concerning a Swedish mining enterprise.

In 1347 King Magnus Eriksson issued a detailed charter for the miner-owners at the Copper Mountain. The original is in the archives of STORA. Copies of both the document of 1288 and that of 1347 can be studied at the museum.

The days of glory of the Falun Mine coincided with the period during which Sweden was established as a great power. To a large extent this position of the country was based financially on the export of copper from Falun. At times the mine accounted for two thirds of the overall global production. With over 1,000 workers the mine was Sweden's largest industrial employer in the 17th century.

During the 18th century copper no longer occupied a key position in the Swedish economy, but the Copper Mountain remained an important producer of copper far into the 19th century

Since December 1992 the Falun Mine is not worked anylonger.

The red paint plant gets its rawmaterial from the waste heaps around the mine. Copper-poor ores, containing iron ochre and silicic acid, are allowed to weather (oxidize) in the open air, forming "red dirt". The red dirt is slurried, dried and calcined, after which the red pigment is ground to a fine powder. The powder is then packaged and sold to paint manufacturers, who produce the actual paint.


STORA

STORA is one of the world's leading forest products groups and one of the leading manufacturers of paper pulp, paper and board.
The group also produces sawn timber goods.
STORA has one of the largest forest holdings in Sweden and is an important producer of electrical power.
Head office is located in Falun, Sweden.


The Town

"The mine is today named after the town of Falun. This is incorrect in chat the town so to speak is a child of the mine and owes dhe mine its growth and existence as a town. Nor is there any comparison between town and mine in age..."

So says a paper on the mine in 1702 - and righdy so, of course. The mine came first. As mining operations expanded, supplies of food and clothing for the workers, of wood for the mine and charcoal for the copper-works were required. And the copper produced had to be sold. As a result, a trading centre developed at an early stage at the Copper Mountain, although it was not granted a town charter until 1641.

The importance of the mine made Falun a large town of its day. When the earnings of the mine decreased, the importance of the town as an industrial centre declined. On the other hand, it maintained a front position as a trading centre and still does.

Above all, however, Falun has the character of an administrative town. It is the provincial capital of Kopparberg County. An infantry regiment has been based here since 1905. The central county hospital is situated in the town. Falun is also the cultural centre of the county with - apart from a number of schools - a theatre, libraries and museums. Sweden's major international skiing competition has also established Falun's reputation as a winter sports resort.


© 1995 Broschyrer / Stiftelsen Falu Kopparberguva/ Stora Kopparberg, S-791 80 Falun.




©2001- GeoNord