Moving Is Hard— Especially When You're a City of 18K People

Mining company paying billions to move Swedish city 2 miles away
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 5, 2017 7:28 PM CDT
Sweden Is Learning It's Not so Easy to Move an Entire City
This is the city of Kiruna, Sweden. If all goes to plan, it will have moved 2 miles away within the next decade.   (Getty Images/Leppakivar)

Sweden's Kirunavaara is the biggest underground iron-ore mine in the world, with miners currently working around 4,000 feet below the surface. The mine is so deep it's practically its own city, boasting the world's deepest restaurant and even, at one point, a circus. Unfortunately, this is literally destroying the actual city thousands of feet above. Bloomberg goes deep* into the billion-dollar, years-long project to move the town of Kiruna—population 18,000—2 miles down the road. The problem is this: Every time miners dig deeper to reach valuable magnetite, more of Kiruna begins to crumble. "We have to move the town,” says one resident who already had to relocate his business due to earlier digging. “We need the mine. Without the mine, there is no Kiruna.”

But that's easier said than done. "Considered all together, what’s happening in Kiruna is unprecedented," Bloomberg states. The relocation includes 5,000 homes, a quarter-mile square of residential and commercial space, and historic buildings that must be preserved or rebuilt exactly in their new home. Mining company LKAB, which is footing the bill for the move, has already spent $500 million of its $1.6 billion budget, and one former worker says it could end up costing up to $10 billion to move the city. But while the big move isn't easy on residents, it does give them the chance to build a better Kiruna. The goal is for the new city to be more walkable with better density and transit and more connection to nature. For example, every new home is designed to be within three blocks of a forest or trail. Read the full story here.

*Ed. Note: Pun intended. (More Longform stories.)

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