You can find many remains of the mining industry in Jinguashi and Jiufen area, however, Shuinandong Smelter (水湳洞精鍊廠) is perhaps the most visible of all. The Shuinandong Smelter was built during the Japanese Colonial Era for refining gold and copper ore which were abundant in the area. Because it was also used in the screening and selection process of high quality ores, Shuinandong Smelter was also called the Mine Selection Plant. The smelter structure is built into a hillside in Shuinandong Recreation Area and its tiered construction lends itself the name “Remains of the 13 Levels” (十三層遺址), although, ironically, there is said to be a total of 18 levels.
Following the surrender of the Japanese in WWII, and the restoration of Taiwan's Republic of China government, the “Mining Bureau of Gold and Copper” was established to oversea the active mining industry. Unfortunately, the once lustrous gold industry was darkened as gold deposits ran dry and the newly renamed “Taiwan Metal Company” shifted its focus to the burgeoning copper market. In years to come, this industry also experience a rapid extinction as the cost of extraction and refining using aging infrastructure became an infeasible burden. And so the days of mining in Keelung and Northeast Coast areas are behind them as economic priorities shifted and opportunities for tourism were realized. What has been left are the surreal remains of bygone days.
Aside from its incredible fortress like appearance, Shuinandong Smelter also boasts one of the world's longest concrete pipeline ventilation systems. The highly toxic nature of copper refining necessitated the construction of these pipelines to carry harmful gases over the mountains and away from the plant and nearby inhabited areas. As you visit Shuinandong, the “Remains of the 13 Levels” will whisper to you the history of prosperity and decline.