Sala Silver Mine - History


The mine has had three major heydays, the main one in early 16th century, a second less significant one in the mid-17th century and a last one in the late 19th century. The last period involved re-organisation of the mine organisation (a transition from state-owned to company-owned) as well as the introduction of several new technological innovations, e.g. leaching methods employed on older mine tailings. These innovations produced temporal production peaks, yet a general lack of high-grade ore made continued production uneconomic which finally led to closure. At most, 3-5 million tons of rock were mined from which ~ 450 tons of silver and about 35,000 tons of lead were extracted. The maximum depth of the mine is 318.6 metres and the length of the mine is ~ 700 metres, the width is ~ 100 metres.

The town of Sala emerged as a miners settlement near the mine, first in the form of a small mining village in the early days, then moved to its present location on order from the king. The king Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden gave the town its privileges in 1624. Around Sala there are numerous lakes and dams with canals, constructed to supply the mine with hydro-power for driving machines for water pumping, ore hoisting and ore smelting. None of these machines are preserved to present days.

Earlier, granite ('Sala granite') was extracted to be used as bricks for construction material northeast of the mine. Several foundations for the buildings in the mine area are built from Sala granite.

The mine was owned during later years by AB Svenska Metallverken in Västerås and Avesta Jernverks AB that until 1962 extracted lead and zinc and very little silver. The extraction was made in a mine not physically connected to the old mine. Since 1988 is the mine owned by the municipality of Sala and serves as a mine museum.

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