Mining history in the center of Kragerø. There are three apatite mines in Kragerø. Dypedalsgruva is the only one that is made available to the public, the other mines are partially filled with water and are closed for safety reasons.
Kragerø has long and versatile mining traditions. As early as 1609, Anders H. Hammersmed got appropriation for construction and operation of an iron cottage at Mørland in Sannidal. Since then, it has continued with operations primarily for iron ore, but also feldspar, quartz, pegmatite, apatite, rutile, mica and olivine hype rides.
The older mining history is not taken well care of here in the district. None of the many mines have been properly accessible to the public, and very few mine workers tools remain from this era. This is why Kragerø and Skåtøy Historielag decided to revive the mining history. Dypedalsgruva behind Bedehuset in town (only 300m from the center) was proposed as one of the local initiative projects for the Cultural Year 1997. The idea for this was first put forward by Alf Olav Larsen, chairman of Telemark Geology Association.
Over the years it had accumulated a huge amount of scrap and trash in this mine, but everything was cleared and taken away after energetic efforts by volunteers from the History Group, Kragerø Mineralogy and Kragerø Contact - and Service Center. Franzefoss Bruk (Valberg) made 12 tons of gravel available free of charge, which was distributed on the "floor" in the open pit. Kjættingfabrikken A/S (Helle) gratuitously gave chains and equipment to secure a huge boulder against the danger of avalanches in the mountains above the quarry. Kragerø Elverk ensured lighting in the mine and architect Jan Abrahamsen (Kragerø municipality) mounted text, images and maps on a nice information board, that Johnny Thorsen had made. Board of Kragerø Bedehus kindly allowed access over their private land due to the mine opening.
Dypedalsgruva was officially opened to the public in summer 1997.
Apatite mines in Kragerø
In 1854 began an English company mining apatite in Kragerø and its vicinity. The firm named Evans & Atkins was from Birmingham. Its representative here was David Forbes (1828-1876), but the local leadership of the operation was handed over to Johan Martin Dahll (1830-1877) from Kragerø. The three apatite mines Dypedal, Løkken and Haukedal in Kragerø were located near each other. It was thought to connect the three mines together, but it was never completed. The latter was also called Vuggen Mine. We find it at Fugleheia but the entrance is closed for safety reasons, the same applies to Løkken Mine.
Apatite is considered as the most widespread phosphate mineral. It comes in varying amounts in virtually all eruptive rocks. According to cand. Gunnar Raade apatite plays a major role as phosphorus source for plants, both by weathering and as raw material for the manufacture of fertilizers. Apatite is used even today in the fertilizer industry. Norwegian Hydro imports large amounts coming by ship, from e.g. the Kola Peninsula.
Mineral - rutile
In the huge pile of rubbish after the apatite mining in Dypedal, large quantities of rutile was found. Tor Kivle narrator (Kragerø Blad 1/8 1963) remembers that rutile from this mine was used as base foundation when the Schweigaards park was built in 1885, as for the same purpose also in Løkkebakken. Rutile was long regarded as commercially worthless. The mineral composed of titanium dioxide has a yellowish red or brownish color. It is especially widespread in igneous (melted) and metamorphic (metamorphosed) rocks. Rutile is found in larger amounts in several locations in southern Norway where gabbro is found. Rutile is used for production of porcelain colors, titanium metal and misc. titanium compounds.
On June 21, 1997 was the Dypedalsgruva made public as a mine museum. A sign in Løkkebakken with sight mark points towards the place. Just before the entrance stands a tablet with useful information about the mine. When we enter into the open pit with steep rock walls on both sides, a couple of trees has grown and stretch themselves up to the light. Here and there in both open pit and the main adit, we notice small red apatite on the background of dark hornblende. The adit where they took out apatite, runs about 25 to 30 meters into the rock. Here, the mineral was blasted out using gunpowder and dynamite. A small side path of 6-7 meters go left from the main adit. The most exciting mining path we find on the left deep in the quarry. It is clear to see that it has been made by fires and cold water to crack the rocks.
Dypedalsgruva is open from May 17th to October 1st. Then anyone can visit the mine. If a guided tour is preferred, contact Sverre Okkenhaug from the History Group.