Mining forces entire Swedish city to move 3 km

The entire Swedish city of Kiruna is facing the odd challenge of having to migrate about three kilometers east after fissures created by iron-ore mining weakened the earth beneath it.

About 18,000 residents of Sweden's far north town have started packing their belongings, but the decision didn’t take anybody by surprise. In fact, the move was planned in 2004 and has been organized for almost a decade, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Over the next twenty years, about 3,000 apartments and houses, several hotels, and 2.2 million square feet of office, school and health-care space will relocate east, WSJ reports.

Since mining company Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara AB (LKAB) alerted authorities that recovering more iron ore from the Kiruna mine meant further excavation, which —in turn— would destabilize the city's centre, the municipality began drawing up plans to relocate its people.

Mining forces entire Swedish city to move 3 km

'For most people in Kiruna the fact that the town and its inhabitants will have to move is accepted as part of life,' Mikael Stenqvist, an architect at White, told The Independent.

Most buildings will simply be torn down, but some of those seen as being Kiruna landmarks will be dismantled and reassembled in their entirety at new locations, reported AFP.

LKAB, which is Kiruna's largest employer, has agreed to pay a large proportion of the transformation has said it is impossible to accurately ascertain the cost of the move.

Image of Kiruna taken in 2006, by Johan Arvelius/Wikimedia Commons.

Map based on Google maps.