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Massive Mine Encroaching on Swedish City
Chris Michael provides a dispatch from Sweden, where the Kiirunavaara mine is changing the fate of a city, again.
The mine, Kiirunavaara, is the reason this Swedish town of roughly 20,000 people deep in northern Lapland exists at all. It is one the world’s largest underground iron ore mines, and it dominates both economically and visually, the smokestacks sending up twin plumes of black smoke from the denuded mountain like a kind of Arctic Mordor.
Over a century, the miners have tunnelled so deep into the earth – 2km at some points – that they have now literally undermined the town. The caverns are causing subsidence, weakening the structure of the buildings, and opening a great crack in the earth itself, which grows wider and several metres closer to the city every year. Kiruna is about to be swallowed by the very mine that gave it life.
Michael provides details on how the planners tasked with moving the people who live in the condemned section of the city have managed a relocation project of unprecedented size.