Swedish Town Falling Into Earth



Fall snows on Kiruna, a town in Sweden.

Madeline Singer, Editor In Chief

Kiruna is in Northern Sweden. (Passing Thru)

Cities don’t often decide to pack their bags, get up and move down the road. But that’s exactly what Kiruna, an Arctic town in northern Sweden, is having to do – to avoid being swallowed up into the earth. The city grew around the world’s largest iron ore deposits. As the mines that exploit them grow, the city itself is cracking and sinking. Now, the mining company that first brought people to the area will buy up the entire city center, knock it down, and rebuild it three kilometers away. The final cost is unknown, but the city of Kiruna says that the company, Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara Aktiebolag (LKAB), has already designated six billion Swedish Kronor (around $700 million) for the project.
Mining plays a prominent role as a source of income and employment for the town of Kiruna and surrounding areas. Northern Sweden is rich with magnetite, used to produce iron ore products, which are then shipped to consumers around the world. Large-scale mining operations in Kiruna began in the 19th century.
Most of Kiruna’s buildings will just be replaced with new ones, including 3,500 to 4,000 apartments. But 21 buildings will be transplanted to the new town. These include the city hall and the Kiruna Church, which has already sunk up to its roof. The wooden church will be taken apart and rebuilt in the new center.
Like any big project, there are concerns. Despite promises that the newly-built apartments will be rent-subsidized for the first five years, Kiruna’s citizens worry that the costs will be too high. They’re also concerned that falling iron ore prices will mean that LKAB won’t finish the new buildings, even after the old ones have already been destroyed. And in a town as small and isolated as Kiruna, where does one go if the rents are unaffordable?

My mom and I enjoy watching forgien mystery/crime/drama shows. We enjoy the mystery, and the different languages and communication styles. We just watched an Acorn series called Rebecka Martinsson. High-flying lawyer Rebecka Martinsson leaves the capital of Sweden, Stockholm, for her hometown when a childhood friend dies. Martinsson returns to her hometown in Kiruna when the local priest, her childhood friend, passes away. Little does she know, her trip home will become a murder investigation. The show is intriguing and takes place in Kiruna. Out of the 10.35 million people in Sweden, roughly 23,000 of them live in Kiruna, similar to the size of College Park City, MD or Pascagoula, MI. Towns have had to move locations due to weather environments or economic conditions, but this is the first report of a move due to the mining industry. The show had nothing to do with this issue, but we researched it to understand the show better. (Highly recommended)