Swedish mining town to literally pick up and move

Swedish mining town to literally pick up and move

North of the arctic circle, Kiruna is home to the world’s largest iron ore mine — which produces 90 percent of all the iron in Europe. Home to the world famousice hotel, lit by the glowing Aurora Borealis, and now getting attention for expansion of the space tourism industry, the city now has a unique chance to reinvent itself.

The enormous state-owned mine has been the backbone of the city’s economy since its founding, more than 100 years ago. Over years of mining, earth below the city has deteriorated, threatening the integrity of building foundations. Instead of closing the mine and causing widespread unemployment, the community of 23,000 people decided to move the city two miles to the east to flee the mine’s deformation zone.

“10 years back they were given the choice — move or not — and 96 percent of the population agreed, ‘okay lets relocate,’” said Mikael Stenqvist of White Arkitekter — the architecture firm in charge of planning the transition. …

White Arkitekter’s plan is to build a new, sustainable city center that connects the three areas, creating a denser, more efficient community with greater access to the outdoors. One notable feature is the city’s new park — a long, thin patch of green that stretches horizontally through the city, providing a place to play, exercise and socialize. …

But the sustainable, eco-friendly utopia comes with a large price tag. The relocation project is largely subsidized by the government-owned mining company, and negotiations are ongoing between property owners and the company. In addition to the land bid, residents will receive a moving bonus and a bonus for staying within Kiruna limits.

“The mining company is paying for pretty much everything,” Stenqvist said.

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