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The Gällivare area was first recognized for its iron deposits in the eighteenth century. When the railway from Luleå was built in 1888 to exploit the large iron resources, it initiated extensive exploration activities for other deposits in the surrounding areas. In 1898 copper ore was discovered at Nau-tanen and within a few years a number of Cu mineralizations had been found northeast and east of Gällivare. The Nautanen Copper Ore company was founded in 1900 and mining started in 1902 but lasted only until 1907 (Geijer, 1918). Some other small Cu mines (Likavaara, Ferrum) were active during the same period in the Nautanen area, and a prospector was working a small gold mine (Fridhem). The Aitik deposit was discovered in 1932 by drilling on geophysical targets in an area where a rich ore boulder and a mineralized outcrop had been found. Further drilling was carried out in 1960 through 1965, and this delineated a low-grade but large Cu deposit suitable for large-scale open pit mining (Malmqvist and Parasnis, 1972; Zweifel, 1976). Mining started in 1968 with an annual production of 2 Mt of ore, which has successively increased to c. 18 Mt in 2004.

Most of the Cu deposits in the Gällivare area are hosted by volcaniclastic sediments varying in composition from aren-ites to pelites. These sediments are intruded by synorogenic diorites and late orogenic to postorogenic granites and pegmatites. The ore deposits occur within or close to the Nauta-nen Deformation zone, which

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