Visnes Gruvemuseum

Visnes Mining Museum

Useful Information

Location: Visnes, Karmøy.
Open: Summer.
Classification: MineCopper Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours:
Address: Visnes Mining Museum, N-4250 Kopervik, Tel: +46-5284-0210.
Karmøy Kulturopplevelser AS, Tel: +47-5283-8400/9510-3612, Fax: +47-5283-8401. 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.


1865 a rich copper ore was discovered in Gronnevik at Visnes.
1870 first electric light in the mine.
1872 smelting house built.
1875 use of compressed air driven drills.
1887 smelting stopped.
1887 mining slowed down.
1894 mine closed.
1898 Rødkleiv mine opened.
1952 sold to P. Egeberg and Lysaker kemikalske fabrik a/s and Norddeutsche Affinerie, Hamburg.
1972 mine closed.
1985 copper form the Statue of Liberty ananlyzed to originate from here.


The heyday of the Visnes Kobberverk was at the end of the nineteenth century. During the 1870s it was the largest copper mine in Norway. Up to 70% of Norway's copper export came from Visnes, which at that time was one of northern Europe's largest mines. The mining company had its own health service, school system, and policemen.

Visnes copper mining had two different periods: the Belgian-French period between 1865 and 1895, and the Rødkleiv era between 1899 and 1972. During the first mine era 1,4 million tons of copper ore were extracted. The first director of the mines was Charles deFrance, born in Metz in 1839, who married a Norwegian in 1867. Charles deFrance's house was the first house which was built by the mining company. Today it is the location of the mining museum, although the original building has been replaced.

At first the director himself sold butter, tobacco, and flour in a little store to his workers. In the first 10 years the population increased to 3000 people with 300 pupils. The mine errected all infrastructure necessary for daily life. The mining started using compressed air driven drills which revolutionized the results, the amount of mined ore doubled. The miners worked 10 hours a day, from 6 to 18 with two hours brake.

The most important order they accomplished was the copper used for the Statue of Liberty. It was obviously a result of the connections to France, which donated the statue to America. The story that the statue was built of copper from here was local lure for many decades. But in autumn 1985 copper from the Statue of Liberty was analyzed and this confirmed that it was indeed from Visnes.

But at last the mining slowed down and was finally stopped in 1894. At this time the mine had reached 730 m below sea level. Before the mine the island had not been inhabited. When it closed the village vanished. The town disappeared, even the buildings were moved to other towns. Four years the place was deserted.

In 1898 a new mine, Rødkleiv, was opened 800 m from the old mine. It was sold to Chr. Michelsen & Co. from Bergen, and for the first time the mine was owned by Norwegians. During the next 75 years again 1.3 million tons of copper enriched mineral were exported. It went up and down several times. The years of World War II, from 1930 to 1945, were the best during the 20th centuries, the mine had 144 workers.