Mining in Sweden

Kiruna iron ore mine in Kiruna, Norrbotten County

The mining industry in Sweden has a history dating back 6,000 years. Sweden's most famous mine is the copper Falun Mine in Dalarna.[1] Income from the Falun mine funded almost all of Sweden's wars throughout its history. Falun mine is the source of the pigment falu red that painted castles, churches and cottages still seen throughout Sweden.[2]

Sweden today is one of the largest sources of iron ore in Europe, with approximately 92% of Europe's iron and 5% of the world's iron reserves.[3][4][5] Currently, Sweden's mines produce 80 million tons of ore in Sweden per year, mostly from Kiruna Mine, which in 2008 produced 27.5 million tons of iron.[6][7][8] In 2012, Sweden was one of the most active major mining countries in Europe.[9][10]

Most of Sweden's landmass is geologically part of the Baltic Shield, which also covers Fennoscandia and northwest parts of Russia. The Baltic Shield has the oldest rock in Europe, and is one of the largest and most active mining areas on the European continent. Most Sweden mines are in the Baltic Shield.[11]

The shield, because of its resemblance to the Canadian Shield and cratons in South Africa, may also be a potential source for mining gold and diamonds.[12][13]


Sweden has a long history of mining, dating back thousands of years. Sweden's earliest mining company was Stora Kopparberg, which operated on the copper Falun Mine.[14] Many German miners and merchants (including some from Lübeck) came into Sweden to join Sweden's mining industry. Because of their influence, iron exports from Sweden went primarily to Lübeck and Danzig in modern-day Poland.[15]



Falun Mine

In the Bronze Age, most copper used in Europe originated in places such as Sicily and Iberia and the Levant. For example, a 3,600 year old copper axe was created in Sweden using copper from Cyprus.[16] Europe's economy at the time relied heavily on copper, the major component of bronze.[17]

Sweden's Falun copper mine opened about 1300. It was the largest copper mine in Sweden, and produced two-thirds of Europe's copper needs. The largest industrial work place in Sweden, at its peak in 1650 the mine produced as much as three kilotons of raw copper in that one year.[18][19]


Iron, as the major component of steel, is of major importance to mining. Crude steel produced in Swedien in 2017 (4,9 million tons) consisted of 1/3 scrap iron and 2/3 of pig iron made from iron ore.[20] Sweden's iron was important to both Nazi Germany and the Allies of World War II.[21]

During the High Middle Ages, Sweden's iron industry followed the "eastern branch" iron production, using bowl furnace[22] methods rather than the open hearth "bloomery" model favored in England.[23] One of the most important Swedish iron products was osmund (also called osmond iron), small pieces made from pig iron, weighing no more than 300 grams, suited to the needs of village smithies. Later, production shifted to bar iron.[23][24][25]

It was also clear the Swedish iron-smelters were connected to major iron markets outside Sweden, where they also influenced osmund production sold by merchants from the Hanseatic League.[26]


In the European Union, Sweden is the second largest gold producer after Finland. Sweden may also have large amounts of gold that could be mined in the future.[13][27]

The name of Swedish mining company Boliden AB comes from the Boliden mine, near Skellefteå, where gold was found in 1924. The Boliden mine was once Europe's largest and richest gold mine, but since 1967 that mine is no longer active. Nevertheless, Boliden AB remains a major producer of gold in Sweden, because their polymetallic mines can produce as much as 2,000 kilograms per year.[28] Some gold is commonly recovered from copper mines in Sweden and Finland.[29]

Impacts on the environmentEdit

Kiruna relocationEdit

The Kiruna Mine, the largest iron ore mine pit in Europe, plans to expand operations in the future. The nearby town of Kiruna would be endangered, however, if iron ore is extracted beneath it, which would cause instability in soil and building foundations. In order to resolve this problem, the mining company LKAB plans to move the entire town with its 18,000 people 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) to the east.[30][31][32]

One building which will be moved during the relocation is Kiruna Church, a Gothic Revival building built in 1912. Many of the town's other buildings, however, will instead be demolished and rebuilt at a new location by LKAB.[31]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Falun | Invest in Dalarna". Invest in Dalarna. 2016-10-10. Retrieved 2018-06-08.
  2. ^ "Falu Mine: where Sweden's cottages get their colour – Routes North". Routes North. 2016-10-14. Retrieved 2018-06-08.
  3. ^ Alexander Perez, Alberto (2014). "2014 Mineral yearbook" (PDF).
  4. ^ "Swedish ore mines". Retrieved 2018-06-01.
  5. ^ Brief Outline of the Metallic Mineral Resources of Sweden. na. 1975.
  6. ^ "Swedish Iron Ore Going Strong | Investing News Network". Investing News Network. 2013-05-23. Retrieved 2018-06-01.
  7. ^ "iron ore mining equipment in sweden". Retrieved 2018-06-01.
  8. ^ "New record for Swedish ore production". Retrieved 2018-06-01.
  9. ^ "isbn:1433047950 - Sök på Google". (in Swedish). Retrieved 2018-06-08.
  10. ^ "isbn:1443855871 - Sök på Google". (in Swedish). Retrieved 2018-06-08.
  11. ^ Publications, USA International Business (2007-02-07). Sweden Mineral & Mining Sector Investment and Business Guide. Int'l Business Publications. ISBN 9781433047954.
  12. ^ "Investment opportunities in Fennoscandian Shield" (PDF). Via Västerbotten Investment Agency. 2012.
  13. ^ a b "Golden prospect in Europe" (PDF).
  14. ^ "Investment opportunities in mining North Sweden" (PDF). Via Västerbotten Investment Agency. November 2009.
  15. ^ "The history of Swedish iron and steel industry". The history of Swedish steel industry - Jernkontoret. Retrieved 2018-06-08.
  16. ^ Bohstrom, Philippe (2016-05-11). "3600-year-old Swedish Axes Were Made With Copper From Cyprus". Haaretz. Retrieved 2018-06-09.
  17. ^ "Copper: A World Trade in 3000 BC? - Eye Of The Psychic". Eye Of The Psychic. Retrieved 2018-06-09.
  18. ^ "1600-talet – Storhetstiden". Falu Gruva (in Swedish). Retrieved 2018-06-09.
  19. ^ "Sweden Minerals Strategy - For sustainable use of Sweden's mineral resources that creates growth throughout the country". Swedish Official Government.
  20. ^ "Production". Production - Jernkontoret. Retrieved 2018-06-09.
  21. ^ Karlborm, Rolf (1968). "Sweden iron ore export to Germany". Scandinavian Economic History Review. 16 (2): 171–175. doi:10.1080/03585522.1968.10411499.
  22. ^ "Technical Glossary of Ironworking Terms". University of Kent at Canterbury. Retrieved July 10, 2018. Bowl furnace A furnace consisting of an open or covered bowl-shaped depression in the ground, which may or may not be lined with ceramic or a layer of refractory stones.
  23. ^ a b Böethius, B. (1958). "Swedish iron and steel, 1600-1955". Scandinavian Economic History Review. 6 (2): 144–175. doi:10.1080/03585522.1958.10411402. In the Middle Ages the Swedish iron industry belonged to the eastern branch of iron production, in which the 'bowl' furnace developed, not into the open hearths of the English bloomery type, but into 'shaft' furnaces. The most important product was known as osmund, a kind of malleable iron which was forged by hand in small pieces, weighing 250-300 grammes and suited to the needs of simple village smithies.
  24. ^ "isbn:0520267583 - Sök på Google". (in Swedish). Retrieved 2018-06-10.
  25. ^ ABLOY, ASSA. "Lock springs". Retrieved 2018-06-10.
  26. ^ Naum, Magdalena; Nordin, Jonas M. (2013-02-20). Scandinavian Colonialism and the Rise of Modernity: Small Time Agents in a Global Arenas. p. 56. ISBN 978-1461462026. Retrieved 2018-07-10. It is clear that Swedish iron-making peasants were connected to iron markets beyond Sweden from an early date, with German merchants in Stockholm acting as intermediariess.
  27. ^ "Sustainable gold mining in Europe" (PDF). Euromines.
  28. ^ "isbn:1411336712 - Sök på Google". (in Swedish). Retrieved 2018-06-10.
  29. ^ Weston, Rae (2013-05-13). Gold (Routledge Revivals): A World Survey. Routledge. ISBN 9781136223310.
  30. ^ Rathi, Akshat. "A Swedish mining company is moving an entire town of 18,000 people—including its buildings—to a new location". Quartz. Retrieved 2018-06-09.
  31. ^ a b Perry, Francesca (2015-07-30). "Kiruna: the arctic city being knocked down and relocated two miles away". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-06-09.
  32. ^ "Plans take shape to move the city of Kiruna" (PDF). 22 May 2014.

External linksEdit