Relocation of Kiruna town due to iron ore mine, Sweden

The world largest underground iron ore mine operated for more than 100 years but is now caving in, destabilizing the ground that the town is built upon. Residents are being relocated in an industrial area with unfair compensation measures


The world’s largest underground iron ore mine is located in Kiruna, Sweden. The Swedish iron ore mining company LKAB (abbreviation of Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara AB) was established in 1890, which makes it one of Sweden’s oldest industrial companies. The mine has been in operation for over a hundred years and has been incredibly important for the Swedish economy [1].

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Basic Data
NameRelocation of Kiruna town due to iron ore mine, Sweden
ProvinceNorrbotten County
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Mineral ore exploration
Urban development conflicts
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific CommoditiesIron ore
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsFour thousand households, two major highways, the national railroad, and the majority of the city’s infrastructure have to be demolished and rebuilt.

LKAB produced 26,9 million tonnes of iron ore products in 2016. LKAB are producing 90% of all the iron in Europe, enough to build more than six Eiffel Towers a day.
Project Area (in hectares)903
Level of Investment (in USD)469,672,255.23 USD allocated for the relocation of Kiruna
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Population17.037 (2015)
Start Date18/10/2004
Company Names or State EnterprisesLuossavaara-Kiirunavaara AB (LKAB) from Sweden - Primary actor
Relevant government actorsThe Kiruna Kommun and the Swedish Government
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
When did the mobilization beginLATENT (no visible resistance)
Forms of MobilizationMedia based activism/alternative media
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Global warming
OtherFissures, subsidence, cracking and collapsing of ground due to mining
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Other Health impacts
OtherEmotional trauma
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseMigration/displacement
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.There has not been a resistence to this move articulating environmental injustice. There are some individual opponents to the move, however most of Kiruna's population are complacent to this fact.
Sources and Materials

[4] News article: Samis sour over time lost to Kiruna move
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[1] LKAB's official website
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[2] News article: Kiruna being moved 3km east so it doesn't fall into a mine
[click to view]

[3] News article: Forced displacement in Sweden - when a mine company demolishes and rebuilds an entire city
[click to view]

Other Documents

The iron ore mine and the town of Kiruna Credit: Alice Own, 2017
[click to view]

Kiruna Heritage building Some of the historical Bläckhorn buildings are being moved to the new Kiruna. Credit: Daria Rivin, 2017
[click to view]

The iron ore mine and the town of Kiruna Credit: Alice Owen, 2017
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorAlice Owen, Mariko Takedomi Karlsson, Daria Rivin
Last update13/09/2017