|Location:||Bjørnevatn, 10 km from Kirkenes. Road No E6 to Hesseng, after 4 km turn left on road No 885. Signposted.|
|Classification:||Iron Mine World War II Bunker|
|Light:||Incandescent Electric Light System|
|Guided tours:||D=2 h.|
Sydvaranger Mine, Pasvikturist AS, Tel: +47-78995080.
Kirkenes Tourist Information Center, Presteveien 1, Boks 145, N-9915 Kirkenes, Tel: +47-78992544, Fax: +47-78996087. E-mail:
|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.
State-owned Sydvaranger AS used to be Norway's largest mining company. The huge open cast mine was the world's most northerly iron mine, until in 1996 the Norwegian Parliament voted to close it. The reason was that the mine had been operating at a loss since the mid-1970's, and to remain in operation, the mine would have had to convert from open pit to underground mining. This would have required further Government subsidies.
The mining started in 1906, drawing workers from entire Scandinavia to the area. During the World Wars the mine was closed, but after the wars the great demand for iron ore made it very profitable. The thirty years from the fifties to the seventies was the golden era of Bjørnevatn. The iron mine was one of the biggest open cast mines in Northern Europe. At the end the ore was transported to Kirkenes were the taconite plant processed it.
In the eighties the iron price went down and the mine became in-economic, finally it was closed. Today the huge mining area is used as an industrial area called Sydvaranger Maritime Industrial Park (SMIP). It intends to serve the oil and gas industry and maritime transport in the Barents Sea. The open cast mine and a part of the mining equipment may be visited on guided tours.
A special sight of the mine is The Tunnel. This former mining tunnel was used as a air raid shelter by the 2500 inhabitants at the end of World War II. Some of them lived in the tunnel for two months and ten children were born underground.