The Kiuri Silver Mine…

…, located just north of Tjåmotis, had a small part in Jokkmokk’s mining history. In 1729, several years after the1702 abandonment of the first mining works of Kedkevare and Alkavare, mining inspector Seger Svanberg was sent to Kvikkjokk to inspect seven possible silver deposits that had been reported.

During his stay that year, Svanberg understood that Margareta Påhlsdotter had known that her grandfather had knowledge of a silver deposit and which he had worked about eight days with. The find was about 30 kilometers east of Kvikkjokk on a hill called Kiuri, though she couldn’t exactly describe where and that this incident happened when she was a little girl.

Other sources state that Nils Andersson, the bell-keep at Kvikkjokk´s church and owning a farm in the small village of Tjåmotis nearby Kiuri Hill is given the credit for information about silver. Regimental quartermaster Joakim Kock supported this information and even regional magistrate Gabriel Gyllengrip suggested that Andersson be presented with a silver bowl as a reward for the find in 1732.

resize-of-kiuribodar01.jpgPhoto: Older log storage houses of Tjåmotis. Kiuri Hill in the background

In his journey to Lapland in 1732, the Swedish botanist Carl von Linneus wrote of actually visiting Kirui with Seger Svanberg and Joachim Kock on the morning of July 3 that same year. He noted that Kiuri was quite high and exploitation attempts had begun on the silver ore that could be easily seen.

Evidently, trenching for silver had been started at Kiuri, 45 kilometers east from Kvikkjokk and 250 kilometers from Luleå. The silver deposit faced westards and was almost perpendicular down the hill for about 4 famnar. During that same first year, Svanberg further explained that work was carried out on trenching consisting of fourteen days work which expanded the trench to 4 famnar in width and 5 famnar in depth and that “one had to use a rope to lower themselves down with”.

From this first exploitation, Svanberg determined that the quality of silver was unreliable and had difficulties in understanding why the Mining Collegiate would consider covering more costs. He continued to mention that in spite of this poor quality, gentlemen and directors from the Mining Collegiate of Västerbotten had sent 10 workers to continue exploitation during the summer of 1733.

It is slightly unclear if the Mining Collegiate from Västerbotten had actually continued to work the silver trenchings in 1733 or that, if only in part, the regimental quartermaster Joakim Kock figured in some way with the operations.

Through the state (king’s) Mining Collegiate in 1734, Joakim Kock received full privileges over the silver works at Kiuri. This designated that Kock was allotted the use of the mining tools from the earlier Luleå Silververk operations and which were still in storage in Kvikkjokk. How much silver was actually mined and shipped out by Kock is uncertain.

Undoubtedly, Kock was an ambitious but frustrated man. In several letters to the Mining Collegiate, Kock complained that the Saami were not willing to tell of any possible silver ore deposits that could result in exploitation. Once, he suggested that the Saami, who told of new deposits, would be freed from paying taxes and those, who kept new finds a secret, would be punished. He also felt that the Saami who shunned their responsibilities as citizens should be “chased out of Sweden with wives and children and their grazing grounds should go to others who have respect for the Swedish Crown”. (Clearly, Kock’s ethnic opinions were of his alone and not necessarily mirrored those of local or general populace.)

Since Joakim Kock’s entrepenuership at Kiuri, it is unclear whom, if anyone found the silver interesting enough to further mine it. In 1796, mining adviser Samuel Gustaf Hermelin visited Kiuri and the older mining works. With this visit, he found the trenching to be 7 famnar long, 3-4 famnar broad and 5 famnar deep. There were signs of the use of an auger that may have resulted from work after Kock.

resize-of-kiuri02.jpgPhoto: A claim defense built near the end of the 19th century on Kiuri Hill

J.A. Falk, a correspondent from Boden and Svartbjörnsby, together with Gabriel Nilsson, a small farm owner from Skatamark, applied for a prospecting license for Kiuri at the Office of Mining Inspection in the borough of Norrbotten in Luleå, November 29, 1889

In their handwritten application, Falk and Nilsson explained that they had intentions of exploiting “an ore deposit consisting of lead glance and situated on the southwest point of Kiuri Hill which lies on the king’s land about ¾ miles north of the village of Tjåmotis in the area of Kvikkjokk.” On December 7, 1889 The Office of Mining Inspection awarded the two men with a prospecting license. The mining operations would be called The Tjåmotis Mine. Very little work was achieved and only resulted in the building of a few claim defenses.

Approximately twelve years later, Kiuri was the focus of attention for a new prospecting application. On June 19, 1901, small farm owners E.A. Jakobsson and L.V. Östlund, both living in Tjåmotis, made application for prospecting rights on Kiuri to the Office of Mining Inspection in Luleå. The Office of Mining Inspection on the 24 of June received the letter.

Jakobsson´s and Östlund´s application involved 8 mining claims primarily prospecting for iron ore. This application concerned a detailed description of where the mines were to be found, what ore was to be mined and how the claims where marked. A total of 8 concession claims where accounted for and were largely found along both sides of Kieures Creek. The names of these mines were “Avon”, “Hopp”, “Kraft”, “Sköldman”, “Oden”, “Tor”, “Gustaf” and “Säkerhet”

Surprisingly, the prospecting licenses, which the Office of Mining Inspection in Luleå issued to Jakobsson and Östling, consisted of only 7 concession claims. The “Kraft” Mine, and its license, was not found in the archives. Still, there were prospecting licenses for more concession mines than the original 8. These mines and a description of their location, were given the names “Freja”, “Jungfrun”, “Prins”, “Åive”, “Silver”, “Balder” and “Tjåmotis”.

Since Jakobsson & Östling, evidence of still further exploitation attempts or applications for prospecting licenses in Kiruna Hill can be found during the 1980`s.

resize-of-kiurijakobsson01.pngPhoto: To get details of older mining operations, the Old Mines of Jokkmokk project conducted interviews with local residents. Here, Kenneth Awebro is listening to Börje Jakobsson tell about earlier mining operations on Kiuri Hill at Jakobsson’s home in Tjåmotis.

According to Börje Jakobsson, a resident of Tjåmotis, the state owned mining company of LKAB had an interest from 1980 to 1983. Jakobsson had assisted in prospecting work as an employee for LKAB near and around Kiuri Hill in the company´s search for iron ore deposits. The work consisted primarily of test drilling in the lowlands south of Kiuri Hill and north of Tjåmotis.

In 1989, a new application for prospecting came to the Office of Mining Inspection in Norrbotten from Tetron Mining AB, Stockholm, a subsidiary company to CE-JI AB. The application, dated October 31, specified prospecting and mineral rights for gold in the area that would be called “Kiuri 1” and comprising of approximately 641 hectares. Svenska Cellulosa AB had land ownership and the Saami economic village of Jåkkakaska held land rights.

Evidently the most recent interest in minerals and prospecting at Kiuri Hill comes from the company Geoforum Scandinavia AB, Ludvika in March 1995. Geoforum was seemingly a subsidiary company of Finnmark Mining Ltd. The minerals that the company was interested in were copper, lead, zinc, aluminum and gold in an area of about 2800 hectares being called Tjåmotis West.

Today, remnants of the original silver mine from 1732 as well as more recent mining remains can be found on or around Kiuri Hill.

Note: The use of the older Swedish measuring system allocated 1 famn = 1.78 meters and 1 aln = 0.58 meters

The Tarra Valley Mines…

…, located within Laponia and Jokkmokk’s burough boundries, were first mentioned near the end of the 19th century. In his travels in the Kvikkjokk area, the Swedish geologist Fredrik Svenonius found deposits of magnesite (MgCO3) in 1882. These deposits were in the Tarra Valley area and 1893, magnesite deposits were found in the Säkok-Ruopsokvaratj area, approximately 25 kilometers northwest of Kvikkjokk. A sample from the Tarra Valley was sent to the Swedish Geological Survey laboratory where it was determined that the purity of magnesite ranged between 37-42%.

In 1895, searching for minerals and ore in the Tarra Valley led to the start of exploitation attempts. Seemingly, in 1897, interest in iron ore deposits in the valley was awakened and resulted in claims filed by a lieutenant H. Sandberg. More information about these iron ore claims has not yet been found.

resize-of-tarraforsvar01.jpgPhoto: A claim defense in the Tarra Valley. Antiloupta in the background

Also in 1897, application for prospecting and exploiting magnesite deposits was received by the Northern Mine Inspection (Bergmästareämbetet i Norr) by the Magnesit Aktiebolaget Tarrakaise company. This application concerned itself with 7 concession claims staked out on the western slopes of the mountain Hildo and 4 concession claims on the mountain Tarrakaise, now know as Antiluopta, and on the latter of these two were given the mine names “Bruden”, “Haren”, “Orren” and “Jägaren”.

Concerning “Bruden”, two horizontal mine shafts had been dug showing magnesite deposits at a length of 140 meters and a width of 5-11 meters. Magnesite ore at “Jägaren” was clearly visible for a length of 80 meters and a horizontal mineshaft of 7 meters was dug. No information has been found concerning work with “Haren” but several mineshafts had apparently been dug within “Orrens” claim area.

It is important to note that, in accordance to the mining laws of that era and which required prospectors to build so-called claim defenses consisting of rectangular mounds of rock or ore, such defense work was carried out in conjunction with the claims along Hildo.

Two more concession claims were made along or near the stream of Parturkårså and given the names “Partu 1” and “Partu 5”, though on an older mining map drawn by surveyor C.J.O. K___?___ in (Year), there shows only Patur 1 & 2. Further historical information about the Magnesit Aktiebolag Tarrakaise company is still being researched.
At the end of the 19th century, interest in mineral deposits at, not only the Tarra Valley but including the iron ore deposits existing at the Ruotevare Hill and the older silver mines of Kedkevare both northwest of Kvikkjokk, gave extremely optimistic hope for future exploitation. The mining works at Tarra Valley even included plans for building suspended cable conveyors that would transport magnesite ore from the higher mineshafts down towards the lower valley area for transportation onwards to coastal industries.

resize-of-tarraort02.jpgPhoto: A rediscovered mine shaft of the Tarra Valley mining area. Caution– because of years of ice and water erosion, do not enter these! Risk for caving in!

These plans and existing optimism led to a natural discussion of expanding railroad connections in the north and serious thoughts were given to building a railway through the Tarra Valley connecting main railways in Sweden with industries in Norway. The Tarra Valley, with its deposits of magnesite, lies in a northwestern to southeastern direction and is a natural geographical link towards Norway.

In his paper “The Iron Mountains of Ruotivare and Wallatj and The Silver Mines of Alkavare and Silbotjokko in Norrbotten” (1891), J.A. Falk argued the following…

“A future railway from Ruotivare would be built within a distance of some 12 English miles from Silbotjokko, so that a branch road from the latter place would not be expensive. For mining operations in a smaller scale…the most suitable course is via Sulitelma copper mines…a distance of only about 30 km. The ore could be refined there or brought further the short distance to the nearest harbour in Norway.”

Falk later continues with an economic calculation of building such a railway and writes, “The cost for constructing a railway of for instance the Decauville system…would be only about 3,300,000 kr”. He finishes his arguments stating, “The chief object of building a railway from Ruotivare to the coast of Norway would be of course to make the great mineral deposits profitable, but would be of importance in other respects too. When the railway is finished, the great lakes between Jockmock and Qvickjock would soon be navigated by small steamers and thousands of travelers (will) pass through this part of Scandinavia…”

resize-of-tarraort01.jpgPhoto: Inside view of a mine shaft at Tarra Valley

No railway was built and it appears that the Magnasit Aktiebolag Tarrakaise ceased existing as a company sometime at the end of the 1920’s. Further historical investigations are in process.

What seems to be the last evidence of interest in the Tarra Valley magnesite deposits was shown by Alvar Holmbom, probably of the Holmbom family from the nearby homestead of Njunjes, whom continued the search for newer cores of the mineral in 1923. Neither evidence of exploitation nor filing of claims from Holmbom has be found to date. And, very few actual mining remnants were cataloged by the project Older Mines of Jokkmokk during inventory work 1996

The Second Ruotevare Mine,…

…in Jokkmokk and Laponia, can be found some 12 km northwest of Kvikkjokk. Already in 1662, and in combination with the silver mines of Silpatåkkå in the Jokkmokk mountains, Isak Tiock wrote to the king about the discovery of a large and lucrative iron ore deposit. This deposit was so big that the mountain itself was more like an enormous chunk of iron ore. Tiock also explained that there was a river nearby for power as well as plenty of forest to make the needed charcoal to smelt the iron. He added that there were pastures for cows.

resize-of-re-exposure-of-ruotevarekvikkjvy03.jpgPhoto: Panorama view of Ruotevare northwest of Kvikkjokk. Taken from Garvek, south of Ruotevare.

Tiock suggested that, should the iron ore be mined, it would benefit the newly established silver works in Kvikkjokk. The smelted iron could then be freighted to Norway and sent by sea to the Swedish coastline where iron was very expensive. However, Tiock’s report of the iron deposit didn’t receive any greater enthusiasm with the Mining Collegiate. It was felt that starting mining operations for iron ore in the Kvikkjokk area would jeopardize the work with the silver mines and especially the limitations on the supply of firewood and charcoal. However, what would happen in the future was an open question.

The Swedish geologist Schefferus mentions iron ore in his renowned book about Lapland that was printed during the 1670’s. He had received a letter from Samuel Rheen, a church pastor assigned at Kvikkjokk, stating “In the mountains also was found a beautiful iron deposit, “Petziwari” named, one and a quarter Swedish mile above the smelting hut of Kvikkjokk where ore in a large open part falls off freely”. According to Rheen, no one so far had shown interest in investing in this deposit and, being in his position, he should have been well informed about the matter. Considering that Shefferus’s book was very popular and well distributed, this iron ore deposit must have been known about in the middle of the 17th century.

In the 18th century, Ruotevare’s iron ore deposit was not entirely unknown. On the contrary, it must have been well-known. During his historical journey to Lapland in 1732, the botanist Carl von Linné mentioned Ruotevare in his journals. Although not having personally visited Ruotevare, he wrote, “on the other side from the smelting hut (Kvikkjokk), westwards from Vallevare is wonderful iron ore but hardly worth the trouble to mine because of the difficult journey to Luleå”.

Considered as one of Sweden’s most powerful mining entrepenuers, Samuel Gustaf Hermelin showed a deep interest in Ruotevare, as well as iron ore deposits in Gällivare etc., at the end of the 18th century. In 1796, Hermelin had started several mining operations near and around Luleå where he also bought large tracts of land. He acquired privileges to build several smelting works and, during the summer of 1797, searched for strategic building of these in places such as Selet, Långnäs and Anajoki.

resize-of-hermelinsgruvstuga01.jpgPhoto: Remains of Hermelin’s mining cabin from 1798

After studying older documents and visiting actual places, Hermelin gained considerable knowledge about the iron ore deposits of Ruotevare. In his book, The History of Minerals, Hermelin writes about a 1797 independent study of Ruotevare by Carl Magnus Robsahm and information gathered from the diary of Claes Vallman, in the accompaniment of C.A. Hjorth af Ornäs, from a journey taken just a year before in 1796.

Miners were sent to Ruotevare intended to work with prospecting procedures Though not having found iron ore bedrock, they gathered together large boulders of pure iron ore. It was told of workers, hanging in a leather buckets, loosening iron ore from the overhang of a cliff with only hand tools that the ore would fall and could be rolled to a place were it later was transported off by proper means. He had a small cabin built nearby.

On the southeastern side of Ruotevare, prospecting efforts had resulted with workers scrapping off the outer layer of earth without finding iron bedrock and was described as “about half-way uphill, iron ore could be found using the needle of a compass crossing over the ground”. Larger amounts of iron, found in the cliff area of the mountain, were thrown down to see where they landed and, observing the results, it was suggested to make a stone path with which it would be easier to gather and transport ore on. Thereafter, this path was completed as well as the cabin which also housed the operation’s forge. This area was to be assigned with the Kamajokk homestead, an area from Fjällockjaur, towards the northwestern end of Routevare, over the mountain of Njåtsåsjåkkå and a short distance along Kamajokk River.

resize-of-hermelinsgruva01.jpgPhoto: The “Hermelin Wall” at Ruotevare

Accordingly, Hermelin employed two skilled rock blasters from Ädelfors in Småland and, together with three other local workers from Kvikkjokk, began work by blasting for iron ore and transporting this to Kvikkjokk. On the southeastern side, four prospects were blasted without finding any iron bedrock. From the earlier attempts along the cliff area, now known to be “Hermelins Wall”, iron ore debris could be gathered up and transported and, with extra workers, more ore could be hacked off the cliff to fall for gathering below. Together with a stone path and some lumber, the transportation of the ore could easily be carried out by horse or by reindeer.

With all his economic and philanthropical ventures, Samuel G. Hermelin eventually went bankrupt!

At the end of the 19th century, mining owners J.A. Falk and N.E. Naselius became interested in Ruotevare. Both were aware of the earlier exploitation attempts and work by Hermelin, a smaller stode pit found in the Helios claim area as well as his cabin that now lay in ruins. Besides a half meter high stone marking, little was evident from this earlier mining attempt.

Ruotevare had partially been an important part of the northern mining collegiate in Northern Sweden. So important that King Karl XIV Johan personally was involved with this development and iron ore from Ruotevare was designated specifically for Selets blasting furnaces just outside Luleå and near the Baltic coastline.

Mining Inspector Trysén reported that Gellivare Gruvaktiebolag analyzed and studied the possibility of building canals along the Lilla Lule River for freighting ore from Ruotevare and Karvek. This development gave no results due to the enormous costs involved and the Swedish State was not interested in being a co-operator as had been thought from the beginning.

In 1859, different entrepreneurs from Gothenburg filed ten claims but these claims were abandoned after one year. Seemingly, iron ore samplings from the area proved to be of poor quality and never resulted in any serious exploitation.

resize-of-routegruvstuga01.pngPhoto: Remains of Fredrik Svenonius’s mining cabin at Ruotevare

The Swedish geologist, Fredirk Svenonius, researched Ruotevare as part of his studies on Lapland at the end of the 19th century. During his 1877 journey, Svenonius passed Ruotevare and again visited the area September 14, 1891 where he could stay in a newly built cabin. He noted that the surroundings consisted of a majestic pine forest with some fur trees. A year later and together with an engineer Jungner, Svenonius returned to the mining cabin staying two days. In 1893, Svenonius again stayed for a day at Ruotevare.

During these last few years of the 19th century, the Swedish mining laws required that claims must be worked. As proof to these operations, the law demanded that each claim must show a number of so-called “claim defenses”. These were rectangular piles of rock showing distinct form and sides and consisted of bedrock or ore and inspections were carried out by the local minister as a guarantee before the workers would receive payment for their work. Concerning Ruotevare and nearby Vallatj, there are over 300 of these claim defenses built. Probably the highest concentration of claim defenses of this type and age in all of Sweden!

resize-of-ruoteforsvar01.jpgPhoto: An example of a “claim defense” from 1890 on Ruotevare. Garvek in upper right corner.

Interestingly enough, from inventory work of the project Older Mines of Jokkmokk, several claims had no defenses built, although historical records show the men received pay for these after the minister inspected and approved the work. This may be explained through bribery between the workers and minister and that both were rewarded through easy money.

Possibly the last interest in Ruotevare was in 1971, when the national power company “Vattenfall” did test drilling on the mountain. This work spanned a few years and Vattenfall could better determine the economic value of the iron ore as well as finding the existence of titanium ore. In spite of this, no actual exploitation was done.

Since then, Ruotevare has become a part of the World Heritage area of Laponia and two nature reserves have been set aside between Kvikkjokk and Ruotevare, thus protecting it’s future from exploitation.

But, as a last note, the English mining company Beowulf Mining has received the right to again test drill on Ruotevare. Beowulf Mining has several test drilling licenses in the Jokkmokk and Arjeplog areas. They haven’t done anything with Ruotevare, but it is interesting how little this company knows about Ruotevare’s history. Beowulf proclaims an enourmous iron deposit, which is true, but angles it’s information to give a portrait that exploitation difficulties are minimum and that iron ore can be found in piles on the ground…the claim defenses from the 19th century.

Footnote: Beowulf Mining will probably have big problems trying to work around these claim defenses, which are classified as cultural heritage remains and over 100 years old. With Beowulf’s interest in Ruotevare, as believably with many other modern mining adventures in northern Sweden, these intressts seemingly are to only increase the share value of their company’s stock holdings and, perhaps later, sell off their claims for a profit and to potential “wannabes” of the mining world.

Snow Conditions in Lapland…

…this year was something I reported on earlier. At that time I mentioned how much and how heavy the snowfall had been.
Now, as we approach the middle of April, I can stoutly announce that this winter has been exceptional with snowfall. Snow depths around Jokkmokk can reach up to 1.3 meters (appx. 4 ft 3 in) and, last weekend, when everyone was relaxingly believing that spring warmth was finally approaching and the roads were all dry and free from snow, we got hit with 35 cm (appx. 1 ft) of snow in one night!

resize-of-dsc_0154.JPGPhoto: Thank God for snowblowers!

Many in Jokkmokk are commenting on the snow amount and depth and many are running out of space for snow removal reasons. Should we get a whopping load of sunshine and heat and should the snow melt rapidly, there could be a real risk of unusual flooding this spring due to the amount of snow and the ground being frozen.

Summarizing, snow is no longer very “romantic” anymore.