Swedish town pays a price for its mining success – by Erika Page (Christian Science Monitor – January 25, 2024)


Annica Henelund swings open the front door of her fabric shop as she has thousands of times before. Inside, not much has changed in the past 51 years. Piles of bright cloth line tabletops and shelves from floor to ceiling. Most of it will never be sold. In a few short weeks, the store must be empty and ready for demolition.

Residents of Kiruna have long known this moment would come. As the state-owned iron-ore mining company LKAB expands its operations underground, this Arctic town is sinking into the ground. So it’s relocating. A shiny new city center located 2 miles east was inaugurated last fall.

But Ms. Henelund, who runs the store with her sister, didn’t think it would happen like this. They can’t afford rent and other costs in the new center, so they’re closing down the shop they inherited from their mother and aunt. “Things shouldn’t have gone as bad as they did,” she says about two years of tense negotiations with the mining company. “We are so tiny for them. … But for us, it’s our lives.”

In Kiruna, it’s rare to hear complaints about the city transformation, as the process is called. The project was an urban planner’s dream – a blank slate for reinventing a city of the future. The most beloved buildings are being painstakingly transported to the new town, which aspires to be one of the most modern and livable in Sweden.

For the rest of this article: https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2024/0125/Swedish-town-pays-a-price-for-its-mining-success