Step down under the ground and experience how mining has changed throughout history.
The museum´s mine gallery shows how work in mines has changed throughout history - from ancient times to today.
In mines, you mine and extract different minerals and rock. A mineral that contains a lot of metal - so much that it is worth mining - is called ore. Most mines in Sweden today are ore mines where iron ore or sulphide ores, which contain several different metals such as copper, zinc, gold and silver, are mined. No-one really knows how long there have been mines in Sweden. We know for certain they have existed since the 13th century, but they probably existed even much earlier.
Underground mining operations and subsequent metal extraction has historically been of great significance to Sweden´s economy. During the period when Sweden was a major military power, many of its wars were financed largely from mining operations — in particular the Falu copper mine, which played an important role. In the 18th century, the mining industry started to become dominated by iron.
You get down into the Mine in the museum via a steep wooden staircase which is placed in a shaft. You can also go down via the mine lift/elevator, but in that case you must first contact one of the museum staff. Ladders, hoists and water pumps were placed in the shaft. So that the rock would not collapse, the walls were shored up with timber logs. You can take a closer look at the timbering as you descend the staircase.
To the right of the stairs, fires light up the darkness. This tells of the oldest method used to extract ore: fire-setting. The ore was extracted by setting fires against ore laden rock. The heat from the fires made the rock fracture. The ore could then be easily hammered off with picks and crowbars, loaded onto barrows and carts and transported away to the working place right under the shaft. From there, the ore was loaded into tubs and hoisted up to ground level.
The need to drill into the rock arose when explosives were introduced — gunpowder in the 17th century, nitro glycerine and dynamite in the mid 19th century. Up until the beginning of the 20th century, almost all drilling was done by hand with sledge hammers and hand drills. This was hard and dangerous work.
The introduction of compressed air and electric power into mines at the beginning of the 20th century had a great impact on mining practices. Pneumatic drills started to become common around 1910. Initially, they were heavy and unwieldy. In the 1940s, drilling was revolutionized by the introduction of the “Swedish method", that is, lightweight pneumatic boring machines equipped with drills with carbide drill bits.
Mine work rapidly changed in pace with the new high-tech options. LKAB today uses computer technology, automation and remote control of mining machines. Ore mining in the Kiruna mine´s new main level is guided with the help of computers and monitors. In the control room, the operator watches over fully automatic loading machines, trains and drilling machines.
Senast uppdaterad: 2010-03-02
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