History & future
The mining activity has affected Kiruna since LKAB started mining in the beginning of 1900.
Ancient remains show that the first people arrived more than 6,000 years ago, after the inland ice cap retreated. This means there were functioning communities in the Kiruna area when our nation’s capital, Stockholm, was still on the sea bed.
The Sámi culture and the Finnish-speaking culture have lived side by side here for all recorded history. Settlers, and the very first miners, came at the beginning of the 17th century, during the first mining era.
A model town on the mountain
In 1736, the county governor of Västerbotten, Gabriel Gyllengrip, gave Amund Amundsson Mangi, a Sami, the assignment to show him which mountain contained iron-ore deposits. The mountain Kirunavaara was now on the map for prospective mining activity, but there were obstacles in this northernmost region of Sweden.
The decision to build a railway from Luleå on the Swedish coast to Narvik on the Norwegian coast solved the transportation problem. The second problem was solved when the process called "Thomasprocessen" was established in 1879, which made it possible to produce good quality iron from the phosphor-rich iron ore that is found in Kirunavaara.
Some years later, in 1890, the mining company Luossavaara-Kirunavaara AB was founded and in 1902 the railway was finished. When the railway reached this area, the mining activity began by the mountain Kirunavaara and this lead to a growing settlement.
Today, Kiruna is not as dependent on the mining activity as it was in the beginning. Other branches of industry have been successfully developed. But with many businesses being connected to the mine, the community is affected by the business cycle of LKAB.
As long as there is a need for steel, LKAB will keep on mining the iron ore in Kiruna. This means that the spreading of deformations will progress and therefore parts of Kiruna C have to be moved or relocated.
A unique project
The transformation of Kiruna C is a unique project, at least on such a large scale. Coal mining in Germany have forced the relocation of a number of smaller villages since 1924.
Kiruna, on the other hand, is facing greater problems. Here we need to build up a new city centre and new residential areas, which in turn demands construction of a new infrastructure, such as water and sewage systems and electricity supply systems.
The planners of Kiruna have therefore no partners to dialogue with, which they can share similar experiences with. But perhaps Kiruna can be a model for other cities in the future, considering the climate change and the threat of rising sea levels that perhaps will force cities to move to safer ground.