By Ariel Scotti / June 12, 2019

Sinking Swedish Town Being Moved Elsewhere

Years of mining have made the land sink into itself

Kiruna, Sweden
Sweden's northernmost town will move its center a few miles away to save it from sinking into the ground. (Sven Nackstrand /AFP /Getty)

Kiruna, a Swedish mining town with a population of 20,000, is packing up — buildings and all — and moving about two miles east.

The move, which includes transport for the home of the town’s founder, is due to over a century’s-worth of mining below the surface into one of the world’s largest iron ore deposits. The tunnels created by workers have made the area too unstable as it begins to literally sink into the earth.

Since the mines were too valuable to close, the state-owned mining company Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara AB (LKAB) began offering citizens buyouts and subsidies to encourage them to move in 2004, Wired reported.

“The city wouldn’t exist except for the mine, but now the mine is threatening the city,” photographer Gregor Kallina said. “Some people are losing the place where they grew up, where they spent their life. All those memories will be gone.”

Kallina said he hasn’t witnesses any protests against the move himself but has heard from residents that not all of them are thrilled to leave their land.

Some people don’t want to move,” he said, “so they are simply leaving the city altogether.”

The year 2035 has been set as the official target date to have all of the towns people and their buildings moved to their new home.

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