Varuträsk 1, 93198 Skellefteå.
10 km from Skellefteå.
Weeks 26 to 32 daily 10-17.
Adults SEK 100, Children (0-12) SEK 50.
|Classification:||Fee Mining Pegmatite with various minerals|
|Light:||Incandescent Electric Light System|
|Guided tours:||self guided|
|Address:||Skellefteå Adventurepark, Varuträsk 1, 93198 Skellefteå, Tel: +46-910-50040, Fax: +46-910-50010. 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.
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|1932||Harald Holmgren discovers the pegmatite when he is out hunting.|
|1936||taken over by Boliden limited company.|
|1946||mining activities ended.|
Pegmatite is a sort of rock which is formed by lava, the begin of an volcano, which never makes it to the surface. If it stays very deep, the hot lava needs a very long time to cool. This gives the numerous minerals of the lava enough time to get hard, one after the other, the one with the highest melting point first. The minerals becoming hard aggregate to crystals, and become bigger and bigger the more time they have. So very big crystals like here are rare and a sign for a very slow cooling process.
Vildmarksgruvan (Wildernessmine) is located at Varuträsk, and dubbed one of the world's most mineral-rich places. The former mine has been known by mineral collectors for decades, with about 70 minerals found here. Many of those minerals are quite rare and thus wanted. It is even the locus typicus (type locale) for one mineral, the varulite.
The history of Varuträsk starts in 1932, when Harald Holmgren discovered the pegmatite dyke when he was out hunting. At first the rocks were not mined for the minerals. The quartz and other rocks were used for the furnaces of the Boliden company, they were used to clear the copper. The feldspar was sold to a company that made porcelain and a mica company. He hired three men, Karl Holmgren and Axel Mannberg from Nyland and Uno Nilsson from Tarsbäckliden. The work began in October 1932 using old techniques: one man held the drill and flipped it after every slam from the sledgehammer by the other man. A lot of people living in Varuträsk thought that Harald Holmgren was out of his mind and the mine nonsense.
Soon after the beginning of the mining, the workers found a lilac stone, which was identified as lepidolite, which contains Lithium. Lithium was already a sought-after material back then and is still used for many things. For example, for catalysts and for the production of synthetic rubber, and of course for accumulators. About 40 different minerals with 6 different lithium compounds were found in the Vildmarksgruvan. The mine was so successful, in 1936 it was taken over by Boliden mining company.
During the mining new types of minerals were constantly emerging, but at that time most were considered of no value. Later it turned out that some findings contained pollucite, a mineral containing cesium, which is used in infrared lights, solar cells, photocells, and most computer chips. A completely unknown mineral which was first found here, was named Varulit after nearby village Varuträsk. Vildmarksgruvan is the type locale for this mineral. When the mining ended 28,904 tons pegmatite and over 50 different minerals had been extracted from the mine.
Today the abandoned mine is a tourist destination named Skellefteå Adventurepark which offers underground mine tours and the possibility to collect minerals. The visitors taking the underground mine tour are equipped with helmet, gum boots, mine overall, flashlight and a fleece jacket. After an introductory video about the history of the mine it is entered on self-guided tours. If a personal guide is preferred, it is necessary to book one in advance.
Then the mining operations of the 1930s and 1940s with the mining technology of the time are shown. A special feature of these tours are the sparkling rock faces with their wealth of rare minerals. Mineral collecting is not free, but visitors may buy a bucket and take with them anything that fits in the bucket. On the surface there are more mining related displays including a forge, which is operated to show the old craft of forging. There is a stone polishing workshop where visitors can try to polish their own finds. In the main building with the café and an exhibition of local minerals.
A few years ago the park was extended and renamed Skellefteå Adventurepark. There are now climbing courses, zip lines, high ropes, and paintball. However, the mine and the mineral museum of the former Varuträsk Mineral Park are still there.