Kåfjord Kopperverk

Alten Copper Mines

Useful Information

Location: Kåfjord
Open: No restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: MineCopper Mine
Light: n/a
Guided tours: self guided trail, L=1,200 m.
Photography: Allowed
Accessibility: Mostly flat, yes
Address: Kåfjord Kopperverk, The Copper Works in Kåfjord, Tourist Info, Kåfjord, 9518 Alta, Tel: +47-7844-5050. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1824 Englishman John Rice Crowe stayed in Trondheim and discovered a lump of ore from Alta.
1825 in spring Crowe returned with mining expert Joseph Michell from Cornwall.
OCT-1825 Crowe applied for permission to start a copper works in Alta.
27-FEB-1826. royal decree grants his application.
1826 Alten Copper Mines founded.
01-JUL-1826 begin of mining.
1827 Kåfjord works begin regular operation.
1833 chalcopyrite discovered in Raipas.
1840 largest iron and copper works in the country.
1873 smelting stopped.
1878 operation closed down.
1896 purchased by the Swede Consul Nils Persson and reopened.
1909 finally closed.


Kåfjord lies in the so-called Alta-Kvænangen bedrock window, with Jurassic sedimentary, some 200Ma old, surrounded by the typical crystalline rocks of Norway. The sedimentrary rocks contain numerous ore deposits, the largest just above the ore-dressing plant in Kåfjord. Deposits were found in an area of up to 10 km from Kåfjord.

The ore was found in lodes which consisted of quartz and calcite, with smaller quantities of the ores pyrite and chalcopyrite. The ore was separated by crushing which raised the copper content to 4-5%.


The copper ore near Kåfjord, on the hills above, was mined during the 19th and early 20th century. The copper ores were discovered by John Rice Crowe on a visit to Trondheim in 1824. In the following year he returned with the cornish mining expert Joseph Michell, who examined the strata of greenstone on both sides of Kåfjord. He found veins containing limestone, quartz, chalcopyrite, and pyrite. Pyrite is iron ore and chalcopyrite copper ore. As a result Crowe applied for a permission to mine and smelt the ore, which was granted by the crown in 1826. The Alten Copper Mines were founded as a co-operative society between A. F. Nellen and the Ward brothers with 80 shares and Crowe and Woodfall with 40 shares. The mining in Kåfjord began on 01-JUL-1826 with 11 men from Røros.

The main mine was found by a Sami girl from Dullan in Kafjord, named Marit Aslaksdatter. She had found rocks of a strange colour on the mountain above Strømsnes, and showed them to the merchant Klerck in Bossekop. he was the local agent of Crowe and Woodfall, and so the Big Mine started. Marit Aslaksdatter was rewarded in 1834 with a small pension for life.

The location of the works at Kåfjord is very favourable. There is the fjord, which is ice-free all year, and big ships can come as close as 100 m to the storage area. There are two small rivers providing enough power for the crushing of the ore. The copper works operated all year round and provided a lot of jobs for the area. In 1840 Kåfjord copper works was the largest iron and copper works in the country with 651 employees. Miners from other mines in Skandinavia and Great Britain were recruited and the infrastructure for the workers and their families built.

The mining started to crumple in the 1850s, when the copper price was rather low because of competition from Cuba and Australia. Then they introduced new techniques to produce high quality copper, which improved profatibility. But in the 1870s finally the operations at the copper works ended. 1873 the smelting wos closed, the workforce was continually reduced, and finally in 18778 the operation was closed down. Most workers emigrated to America, a few stayed to work at the slate industry or to run a farm.

Mining resumed after the Swedish Consul Nils Persson purchased the disused Kåfjord copper works in 1896. It was named Alten's Copper Mines and mining started with 60 mineras in 1897. In 1900 it was again the sixth largest mine in the country, based on the manpower. But soon the older mines were exhauseted and the operation was no longer profitable. So the works were finally closed in 1909.

The copper works are just ruins, and there is no museum, but a trail through the surface remains equipped with information plates has been laid out. Th trail is 1.2 km long and starts at the E6 at the parking lot. Then it leads along the fjord to the church. The church was built in 1837 in the style of an English village church, a remider of the English owners. It is also the only building of the town which was not burned down during World War II.