Kiirunavaara and The Move of an Entire City

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In December, The Guardian released an article on the Swedish city of Kiruna, that is currently in the process of being moved due to a crack in the mountain Kiirunavaara as a result of iron mining.

The town Kiruna itself exists as a result of the mining industry, but instead of trying to repair the crack threatening to swallow the town whole, the government is suggesting a move of the entire city, approximately 3 kilometers east. This plan has been in the works since 2010, but only recently has it come into international media.

Even in Sweden much remains unknown about the move. Back in 2016, major controversy occurred as the Swedish population seemed more informed about the remodelling of Slussen, an area of central Stockholm than of the situation in Kiruna, up in the very north of the country.

Many people have accused the government of a lack of care of the more northern and rural areas of the country in favour of the ever growing capital. This comes after TV whether forecasts actively descaled the largest and northernmost lands of the country, Norrland, in order to show the southernmost parts of the country in more detail. Being from Norrland myself, I have seen the effects of this rejection of the north in everyday life.

Kiruna Iron Mine / Credit: NASA International Space Station Program [Public domain]
While we may be the least populated part of the country, it is also home to the largest population of working class people, and the main production of energy through its mines, hydropower stations and solar energy plants. Not to mention it’s beautiful forests providing the country with a continuous flow of  fresh air. Simply put, we are keeping the southern parts of the country alive, and what do we get in return?

The oldest houses are being transported on trailers but most of the community will be destroyed and rebuilt in what is to be called the new Kiruna City Center. All this in order for the mining company LK AB to be able to continue their production. The first house to be moved was one from 1899, almost as old as Kiruna itself. While the initial building began its journey east on the 24th of may 2017, the new Kiruna is not expected to be complete until 2035.

So where does this leave the inhabitants of the town?

Well, as you might be able to imagine, a large part of the population is furious. Kiruna is a beloved city with a thriving community, and not to mention one of those cities where people never really move away, even as generations come and go.

These people will in short not only loose their housing, their employment and their everyday routine, but they’re loosing an essential part of their childhood as well. Some of the costs of innocent people’s drastic uptake will be subsidised by the government as well as the mining company at large, but this will still not fully cover the expenses of building a completely new home, 3 KM away.

The North of Sweden offers some absolutely astonishing sights, including incredible ski slopes, hiking tracks and not to mention the Northern Lights. These attractions, and many more, provide the country with a huge amount of money through it’s tourism, and while Kiruna may not be the number one sightseeing location, the economy sustained in the community is what helps keep the wildlife of rural Sweden clean, and most importantly, free.

This complete disregard of the citizens of Kiruna is a complete disgrace and if the government doesn’t start giving the North the attention it deserves, they will surely pay the price.

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Opinion Editor 19/20, Features Editor 18/19. Third year BA English Lit student with a passion for intersectional feminism, dogs and iced coffee, currently on a YA in Hong Kong.

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