The gold rush turned the villages of Jiufen and Jinguashi into rich gold mining towns until the 1950s, when the mining industry was broken, the region experienced a bitter decline.
Founded during the Japanese colonial period, the Shuinandong melt was the largest in Asia at the time. It was built to treat gold and copper ores that were plentiful and high in the area. The buildings are constructed into a slope, whose stepped construction gives it the name ‘the remains of the 13 steps’.
On closer inspection, however, the visitor discovers a total of 18 levels. After the Japanese capitulation at the end of the Second World War and the restoration of Taiwan in 1945, the Taiwan Gold and Copper Mining Bureau was established in 1946 to oversee the mining industry. When the gold deposits were running dry, the once glistening gold industry went through a downturn and never really recovered. The newly renamed ‘Taiwan Metal Company’ is, therefore, shifting its focus to the burgeoning copper market.
The appearance of the fortress is mysterious enough, but the Shuinandong melt also has one of the longest concrete pipeline ventilation systems in the world, more than 1,000 meters long.
The abandoned Shuinandong Melt is today the gateway for visitors to visit the surreal remains of the past days and explore the history of prosperity and decline. Meanwhile, the site is completely closed to the public, leaving only a view from the outside.