The Mines of Gladhammar

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The mines of Gladhammar near Västervik in SE Sweden were worked at least from the 16th century to the 19th century, producing iron, copper and cobalt. Now they pose a big environmental problem because of heavy metals leaching out of the spoil heaps into a nearby lake. A project is afoot to do something about the site, removing all the spoil (!) to a safer location, and so my colleagues from the Kalmar County Museum have been called in to do some early industrial archaeology prior to the cleanup. Here’s a fascinating short film they’ve shot from a basket lowered with a crane into one of the mines. And here’s a speleological report (a 7 MB pdf file) on what the mines look like, crammed full of excellent photographs by Sven Gunnvall and Björn Gunnvall.

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Comments

  1. #1 Who Cares
    December 18, 2009

    Bunch of (most likely) dumb questions.
    If there is still so much left in the spoil can it be reprocessed commercially?
    Are those mines viable (again) with modern technology?
    Why not put the spoil back where it came from?

  2. #2 Martin R
    December 18, 2009

    There have been attempts after the closing of the mines to find viable ore deposits again, but nothing has popped up. So I guess the tailings aren’t viable either.

    Who knows, maybe the mine would be viable in an area with cheap manual labour and looser health & safety restrictions.

    Dropping the tailings back into the mine is a bad idea because it is equipped with a drainage tunnel that empties into the aforementioned lake. And I guess it would be impossible to keep the mine from leaking even if the drainage tunnel was plugged, as they actually plan to do.

  3. #3 Chris
    December 18, 2009

    “The Mines of Gladhammer” sounds like a world of warcraft expansion pack

  4. #4 Martin R
    December 19, 2009

    My friend Howard just loved it once when we passed the small Bergslagen village of Rockhammar.