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Advent calendar 2020: 8. Falu gruva, a copper mine in Falun

Advent calendar 2020: 8. Falu gruva

Sweden is very abundant with natural resources, such as copper, iron, gold and wood. Copper, in particular, has been the focus of the mining industry of Dalarna and Bergslagen, regions to the northwest of Stockholm.

Falu gruva is probably the most famous copper mine in Sweden. Since the 8th or 9th century, copper has been mined in the region, eventually becoming one of the most important industries in Sweden. Sweden even had copper-based currency in the 17th century (which failed because of a drop in European copper prices).

The industry also gave rise to the name Bergslagen for the area between Dalarna and the lake Mälaren, because of the legal privileges that many of the mines in the area received, thus “mountain law” (In Swedish bergs lag).

The copper mine in Falun is one of the most extracted in Sweden, so much that a great collapse happened on 25 June 1687. Coincidentally, that day was Midsummer’s Eve, a holiday so there was nobody at the mine, thus despite the scale of the collapse, there were luckily no casualties. The collapse transformed the Falu gruva into a gigantic hole next to the town of Falun, and the mine itself continued in business until 1992. In 2001, the mine was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It takes 3 hours from Stockholm to Falun by train.