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Kafjord Copper Works (Norway)

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The Kåfjord Copper Works (Kåfjord kobberverk, originally Alten Copper Mines and later Alten Copper Works) was established in 1826 to mine copper in Kåfjord, Norway.

After the discovery of copper ore in the area in the 17th century, exploration for ore started in the 18th century. The copper works in Kåfjord operated from 1826 to 1878 under English owners, and again from 1896 to 1909 under Swedish owners.

John Rice Crowe (1795–1877) and Henry Dick Woodfall (1796–1869) founded Alten Copper Mines, probably in 1826, to extract copper ore in the Alta area. Crowe had started trading in Hammerfest around 1820. Crowe and Woodfall both acted as directors of the company in Kåfjord, which changed its name to Alten Copper Works at some point. Operations started in 1826 with 11 workers from the Røros Copper Works.

John Rice Crowe also had interests in copper works outside of Alta. In 1827, together with merchants from Hammerfest and Tromsø, he founded the Quenangen Mining Association to start mining in Kvænangen in Tromso.

Woodfall resigned from his executive position at the Alten Copper Works in 1840. Crowe remained the director until 1844, when his successor Stephen Henry Thomas took over. Unlike Woodfall and Crowe, Thomas had a mining education; he was a chemical engineer and a few years earlier had relocated from Cornwall to become the mining foreman in Kåfjord. Thomas served as the director from 1844 to 1857.

Crowe and Woodfall brought had a philanthropic approach to their workers. They took care of widows of factory workers and their families, and in Kåfjord they built a small industrial community with their own homes and a health centre for the employees. The factory operated its own shop, bakery and brewery. There were also free schools, one for the children from Kreta with instruction in Kven, and one in Kåfjord for the Norwegians.

In the works' civic building, Ultima Thule was founded as the world's northernmost theatre company. The building also contained a library with a reading rooms for the workers.

Alten Copper Mines was merged with Sulitjelma Aktiebolag in 1896. The operations in Kåfjord were resumed with Swedish owners under the name Alten Kobbergruver in the same year. An electric power station was set up on the Møllnes River (Møllneselva) in 1903. In 1909 the mines were exhausted and the operation was found to be unprofitable.

In the autumn of 1944, all of the buildings at the site except for the church were burned during the German retreat, as part of their 'scorched earth' policy.

The above information is heavily condensed from the Wikipedia entry, which is recommended for further reading.[1]


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. [1] Wikipedia: Kåfjord Copper Works. Accessed 14 Sept 2019