Swedish Town Moves to Help Mining Project

Kiruana, Sweden

Wow — while we at Resourceful Earth don’t necessarily support the relocation of an entire town (might need to subscribe) in order to access natural resources, the stark contrast between the attitude of Swedish citizens and the way mining is treated in the United States is remarkable:

Sweden’s most northerly town is about to pay a high price for sitting on the world’s largest underground iron ore seam.

In a few months, work will start to move the Arctic town of Kiruna, which alone accounts for nearly 90 per cent of Europe’s iron ore production, about two miles east so tunnelling can continue.

Hundreds of residential buildings will be torn down and rebuilt in stages as extraction of the slab of iron ore jutting beneath the town causes the earth above to crumble and crack.

The town’s century-old wooden church and other historic buildings will be taken apart early next year, loaded on to trucks and reassembled at another site. Hundreds of families from the town of 20,000 people will be relocated in the first of several big moves.

Can you imagine something like this happening here? Environmentalists scream bloody murder when companies try to build mines or extract resources in the middle of nowhere. And while naturally you will find some naysayers in any large groups, it looks like the majority of citizens are willing to put up with this (massive) inconvenience because they recognize the value of mining:

Kiruna residents agree that while the town’s relocation is a concern, it is a price most are willing to pay.

“No one is seriously opposed to the move because in the end everyone is benefiting from the mine’s expansion,” says Anna Ahlgren, a 28-year-old mining engineer.

Average wages at LKAB are up 26 per cent since 2005 to around Skr400,000 ($58,000) a year. All employees now receive an extra Skr60,000 each year if safety and production targets are hit.

This has made Kiruna one of the wealthiest places in Sweden in terms of purchasing power. With the same average income as the buzzing financial centre of Stockholm and houses less than half the price, it is a place where blue collar workers can feel rich.

I can’t ever imagine something like this finding support in the United States.


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