Utö Iron Mines


Useful Information

Location: Utö Island, Stockholm Archipelago, Haninge, Stockholms län.
Open: Mining Museum: Summer daily. [2006]
Classification: MineIron mine
Light: n/a
Guided tours:  
Bibliography: J. Langhof, D. Holtstam, L. Gustafsson (2000): Chiavennite and zoned genthelvite-helvite as late-stage minerals of the Proterozoic LCT pegmatites at Utö, Stockholm, Sweden. GFF 122, 207-212. Stockholm. ISSN 1103-5897
Address: Utö Iron Mines, Utö Tourist Office, Utö Turistbyrå, 13056 Gruvbryggan, Utö, Tel: +46-8-50157410, Fax: +46-8-50157420, Cell: +46-708-157490. 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.
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~800 island first inhabited by vikings.
~1150 iron ore discovered, mining started.
1607 first written account of the mine.
1624 nine mines in work.
1694 Matthias Wefwerstedt came to the island.
1719 island sieged by Russians, mines, houses, seeds, and cattle destroyed.
1817 Element Lithium first found in a sample from Utö by Arfwedson, a student of Berzelius.
1879 mine closed.
1913 Holmquistite discovered.


The Nyköpingsgruvan iron formation is skarn, which contains high amounts of iron, but also Lithium and a little silver. Located on the northern part of Utö Island, there are two pegmatite bodies that transect the iron ore. The complex formation is very rich in minerals.


The small island Utö in the archipelago of Stockholm is famous for its iron ore. The ore was mined as early as the 12th century, and so this is the oldest iron mine of Sweden. It is also famous for the discovery of Lithium, as the skarn ore is rich in Lithium. The first time this element was extracted was from a sample from Utö. This was done by Arfwedson, a student of Berzelius, in 1817.

The Gruvmuseet (mining museum) is located in the old Spruthuset next to the Utö Värdshus Hotell & Konferens. It contains among other things an exhibition about the history of the mines. The mine pits are only a few meters to the south, they are filled with groundwater and form elongated lakes. As a result there is no underground mine tour. But there are several slag heaps which are popular among mineral collectors.

Utö is type locality for four minerals: Holmquistite, Manganotantalite, Petalite, and Spodumene. Samples of those rare minerals are on display in the local mining museum. It also shows photos of the island and its inhabitants, mining tools and exhibits on geography, flora and fauna.

At first the iron ore was mined in open cast mines, with a very old method. The rocks were first heated up with a wood fire and then cooled rapidly with cold water. It got cracks and was easy to remove. Nevertheless, the work was hard and the wages low, part of them paid in alcohol. The owners often had problems to find labourers, so they used criminals who had to work in the mines during their sentence. Some workers were too weak to climb up on the ladders, so they spent the nights in the mine.

Utö is the name of the island and translate Ut island. The last letter ö is a sort of short form of oi, the Sewdish word for island. There is actually no town on the island, so all addresses use Utö instead of a town name. The mines are located a 5 minutes walk from the harbour and signposted.