The  history of Sulitjelma

An enormous glacier covered all of Scandinavia during the last ice age. Gradually, the temperature rose, the ice began to melt, and the glacier moved back. For about 9 500 years ago the Sulitjelma area thawed and appeared, and slowly but steadily the area was covered by vegetation.

No one knows when the first humans moved into the area. Most names of mountain peaks, rivers, and lakes in the area are Saami, and show that this was the group of people who were the first to live here. The oldest trace of man we know today, is a Saami grave from about the year I 100 A. D. Right up to our own time the Saami have lived in the area, and still today the Saami are keeping reindeer in the area.

In 1848, the first Norsemen moved into the area, cleared several farms, and settled here. Subsequently, the population grew to abt. 45 persons.

Right after the new settlers had set up house, copper ore was found in the mountains around Sulitjelma. Through several decades the deposit remained unused, without anything but a small experimental operation. The parties interested lacked the necessary capital. At the time, Norway was one of the poorest countries in Europe, and starting up big industry was almost without exception dependent upon foreign capital. The industrial founder, Nils Persson from Sweden came to know about the deposits of copper and sulphur ore in Sulitjelma. Persson secured the rights, and started regular mining in 1887. After four years of experimental operation the company A/S Sulitjelma Gruber was founded. In addition to the mines there was also a plant for further processing the ore, smelting plant, conveying plant, maintenance departments as well as all necessary service institutions for serving a whole community.

The mining expanded very intensely, and right after the turn of the century Sulitjelma had become the largest mine in Norway, and the second largest industry business in the county. Right before the First World War the business had 1700 employees. The population of Sulitjelma had increased from 45 persons in the eighteen-eighties, to more than 3 000 fight before 1920.

As the years went by, it was necessary to constantly go deeper down into the mountain to fetch the ore. This led to great costs of mining. In 1991, all mining in Sulitjelma was therefore stopped for good. And still the ore which remains here in the mountain, constitutes the largest, known deposit of copper in Norway.

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These pages are made by Lasse G. Dahl, Insitu Salten AS.
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