With its 300-year-old history of mining, the Kongsberg silver mines is an industrial heritage of great value – at both a national and international level. It was protected following a decision of the King in Council in 2003.
Protection order adopted by the King in Council on 15 May 2003
The protection order covers an area of 30.6 km2, which bears many traces of a 300-year history of mining, including both the mines themselves and buildings and other structures on the surface.
The Kongsberg silver mines were in operation from 1623 to 1958. It was the first permanent mine in Norway. This used to be Norway’s most important mining operation and one of the largest silver mines in Europe. A total of 1 350 tonnes of silver was produced here, together with a substantial amount of copper. The copper and most of the silver were used in coins.
In the mine’s heyday in 1770, it employed 4 000 people. In addition, about 2 000 farmers were involved in producing and transporting the timber needed for the mine. At the time Kongsberg was Norway’s second-largest town after Bergen. Today it is just a medium-sized town by Norwegian standards,
The long history of mining has left a very characteristic landscape in this area. There are large numbers of trial pits, shaft openings and slag heaps on the surface, and an extensive system of mine galleries underground.
The area also contains a complex system of lakes and artificial channels that provided water power for the mines, many valuable buildings, and fascinating industrial installations. This all makes for a varied and interesting cultural environment, and today the area is also an important outdoor recreation area.