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Our history

90 years of knowledge and innovation

Our history

In December 1924, gold fever breaks out around 30 km north west of Skellefteå. The first ore deposit is discovered in Fågelmyran, laying the foundations for what today is the Boliden Group. Two years later, the first ore is mined and a flourishing community soon grows up in Boliden.

It's a cold winter's day in December, 1924. At the Fågelmyran mine outside Skellefteå, the persistent grinding of a drill can be heard. Silence falls as the final drill core is retrieved. "What on earth... Good heavens, it's pure gold!" What came to be known as the Boliden ore body was discovered. The first ore is mined a few years later and the Boliden mine grows to become one of Europe's biggest and richest gold mines.

However, gold fever had already broken out in 1900 in Skellefteå and surrounding regions. A shortage of metal during the closing years of the First World War led to an increasing interest in prospecting the area for ore. A new type of speculative holding company known as an issuing company was established by the banks. The Boliden we know today has its origins in one such company, Centralgruppens Emissionsbolag.

See the whole Boliden story in our brochure "From past to present".

1920s: mine acquisitions, new companies and Ivar Kreuger

From 1915 until 1920, Centralgruppens Emissionsbolag acquires a number of mines and participations in other mining companies. However, the company sold some of its assets and joint ventures after suffering losses for several years. In 1924, geologist Fritz Kuatsky, while working on behalf of Centralgruppens Emissionsbolag, discovers a gold deposit that later becomes the Holmtjärn mine. Gold ore of extremely high quality was mined here in the space of one year, which enabled continued exploration work. Thus the rich gold deposit at Holmtjärn becomes crucial for funding exploration in Fågelmyran.

In May 1925, Centralgruppens Emissionsbolag is taken over by the bank that originally financed the company. The bank then forms two mining companies: Västerbottens Gruvaktiebolag and Skellefteå Gruvaktiebolag. Financier Ivar Kreuger, the celebrated "Match King", gets involved, and after a number of transactions he becomes the owner of 90 per cent of the shares. For a few dramatic years he sets his stamp on the company.


1930s: Smelting plant, economic growth and a prosperous mining district


Västerbottens Gruvaktiebolag and Skellefteå Gruvaktiebolag merge in February 1931 to become Boliden. The smelting plant in Rönnskär began operations the previous year. The Great Depression sweeps through the whole world in the 1930s, but in the area around Skellefteå, Boliden creates growth. This leads to economic development in the region and local population growth. The number of employees rises steadily, and by 1935 the workforce numbers 2,500.

Operations expand in 1936 with the Varuträsk mine, and again two years later with the Laver mine. These positive trends also continue during the Second World War. Growth in the Boliden community keeps pace with mining operations and the town takes on the character of an extremely well ordered, peaceful, idyllic small town.

1940s: New mines, lead ore and modernizations

Boliden continues to expand. Between 1940 and 1943, mines are established in Kristineberg, Adak, Bjurfors, Lainejaur, Lindsköld and Rävliden. In 1943, when the war threatens to cut off lead supplies to Sweden, mining begins in Laisvall, Europe's most important supplier of lead ore. The company begins operations as a wartime measure, but the rich deposit is extensive and the mine lives on right up until 2001.

In 1947, a new deposit is discovered at Långsele close to Boliden, and at the same time production begins in the sulphide ore mine in Åkulla. Two years later, the smelting plant in Rönnskär is extended and modernized.


1950s: Electric underground railway and the acquisition of Garpenberg


In 1955, the world's then deepest underground electric railway begins ore transport operations. The railway runs between Långsele and Boliden. Two years later, Boliden acquires Zinkgruvor AB, which owns a number of mines in central Sweden. Among others, the mines include Garpenberg and Saxberget.

Operations in the Boliden area are extended in 1952 with the Renström mine, which is still in operation today.  

1960s: Aitik mine start-up and important chemical production

The company's successes continue in the 1960s with discoveries at Udden and Näsliden. Operations at the Aitik mine outside Gällivare begin in 1968. Over the years the open-pit mine becomes one of the largest copper mines in Europe. Copper concentrates are transported 400 km by rail to Rönnskär.

During the 1960s and 1970s, chemical production becomes very important. Boliden and subsidiary Supra produces 1 million tonnes of sulphuric acid per year. The fertilizer made from the chemical is among the first of the artificial fertilizer's known as 'super phosphates'.


1970s: Kaldo technology and the acquisition of recycling companies


Early in the 1970s, the company grows through a joint venture with the German company Preussag, which means increased lead smelting and refining capacity. The Swedish company Sala Maskinfabrik, which manufactures equipment for the mineral processing sector, is also acquired.

Boliden launches the Kaldo furnace in 1976. The first flash smelting furnace for lead using Kaldo technology began operations at the smelting plant in Rönnskär the same year. Boliden also purchases the Danish recycling company Paul Bergsöe & Son in 1976 and Boliden Bergsöe AB is formed.

1990s: Canada, Chile and company restructuring

In 1996, the Trelleborg group begins a major restructuring that results in the disposal of the Boliden group's mines, smelters, production facilities and services. The new company, Boliden Limited, is formed in Toronto and as of 1997 the company's shares are listed on the Toronto and Montréal stock exchanges. In 1998, Boliden Limited purchases the Canadian company Westmin. The purchase means that Boliden also takes over the Myra Falls complex ore mine in Canada and copper projects in Chile.

In 1999, Boliden carries out restructuring at the group level and the share is listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange. Two years later, the company moves back to Sweden and its shares are listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange O list.


2000s: New Boliden, big transactions and investments in the billions


In a major deal at the end of 2003, Boliden acquires the Tara zinc mine in Ireland, the smelters Kokkola and Harjavalta in Finland and Odda in Norway from the Finnish company, Outokumpu. New Boliden is formed. The Myra Falls mine and all shares in North Atlantic Natural Resources are divested in 2004.

In 2006, the company decides to invest SEK 5.2 billion in expanding the Aitik mine. The new facilities, which open in 2010, will come to double Aitik's annual or production to 36 million tonnes and increase copper production by 50 per cent. The same year, the company decides to expand electronic scrap recycling at the smelting plant in Rönnskär. The expansion opens in 2012 and makes Boliden the world leader in the field.

2010s: Expansion of Garpenberg, a new gold mine and acquisitions in Finland

Between 2011 and 2014, operations in Garpenberg undergo a major expansion, increasing annual ore production from 1.4 million tonnes to 2.5 million tonnes. Full production capacity is reached at the end of 2015. In 2012, the Kankberg mine in the Boliden region opens for the extraction of gold and tellurium. It is the company's fifth gold mine.

Boliden acquires the Finnish copper mine Kylylahti in 2014, and the prospecting rights for the Outokumpu field. In 2016, operations in Finland are expanded through the acquisition of the Kevitsa open pit mine.  



Boliden Head Office

Boliden Group
Klarabergsviadukten 90
P.O. Box 44, SE-101 20 Stockholm 
Tel: + 46 8 610 15 00
Fax: + 46 8 654 80 90