Have you ever heard of an entire city, packing up and moving to another place? Kiruna, an Arctic town of 18,000 people in the North of Sweden, is forced to pack up and leave unless they want to be swallowed whole by the ground beneath.
The town of Kiruna lies 200 km (124 miles) above the Arctic circle, on top of Europe’s largest iron-ore mine. The state-owned mining company KLAB has shown concerns that they may have dug too deep into the earth, which has increased the risk of a giant sinkhole consuming the entire town.
KLAB itself is paying for the relocation of the city, offering citizens to buy their properties for 125% of their market value, or give a property of the same size in the new town. This relocation is expected to cost well over $1 billion.
The mining town has a history that goes back to over a century. Kiruna was founded in 1900 and is home to many historical buildings. Some citizens have protested to relocation, with concerns of preservation of the historic buildings. The entire town is moving only 3 km (2 miles) away from its original location with only a few historic buildings selected for relocation. The clock tower and the church will be moved while others will be demolished.
The relocation and the threat of the sinkhole did not appear overnight. The plans for relocation had begun a decade ago, but they are being implemented now, starting with the town’s first building transport on a truck on May 24.
The company says they are building 3000 residences in the new town which include a new city hall, hotel, residential area, business area, shopping district, restaurant, cafe, and even community service buildings. While the moving has begun, it is expected to take another 20-30 years. Nina Eliasson of LKAB’s Urban Transformation team says, “This is the city I was born and raised in. It is really important for me that the surroundings will be as much the same as they are today, even better.”