tommy.jensen@sbs.su.se johan.sandstrom@ltu.se

Category Archives: Iron

The Pilbara: from the deserts profits come


Academic life is especially good when leading to new and inspiring collaborations. Early June, we got a visit to Luleå by professor Bradon Ellem from Sydney University. Bradon has vast experiences from the mining industry in the Pilbara (North Western Australia). He also happened to be a great thinker and theoriser of space-time aspects relevant to mining, aspects we’re bending our minds around at the moment. Together with Bradon we’ve […]

Storyteller #14 – on unions and strikes


Storyteller #14 is a man working above ground for over twenty years at LKAB in Kiruna. Below is an extract from our conversation where we talk about the worker collective and the role of the union. – That time, around 1969/70 (the time of the big strike, spontaneously started by a worker in Svappavaara, not a strike organised by the union), when they began getting power over the workers, and when […]

The way of the iron ore


The theater group Tornedalsteatern/Tornionlaakson teatteri works to enhance the interest for the culture and language (meänkieli) of people living in Torndealen, close to the border between Finland and Sweden. The group is a mix of amateurs and professionals doing very professional productions. Their latest project is a theater called Malmens väg/Malmin tie/Málmma geaidnu (the way of the ore) and is about the role of the iron ore mines in the […]

Annual meeting


Yesterday, Johan attended LKAB:s annual meeting in Luleå, Sweden. It was an interesting, maybe even odd, experience (see a picture gallery further down). A lot of suits, difficult to know how many attended, maybe 50 people. I feel rather alone in my hoodie (or bunny-hug as they say in Saskatchewan). Besides top management and board members of LKAB, the Swedish Minister of Industry, Mikael Damberg, was there, our national superstar […]

Blast (gotta move)


“Blast (gotta move)” is a song about the anxiety of knowing what you have but not what you get, of trying to act collectively but faced with separate negotiations, with not knowing whether or not to afford what the market-conditions dictate, with up-rooting children if leaving Kiruna town is the only viable solution, about having to leave the beautiful scenery appearing outside the kitchen window, about the state withdrawing, leaving movement of […]

1969-2015-?


What is the relation between capital and workers today? Is a political will and struggle still present? As in the strike in 1969/1970 where the predominant part of the workers (a strong collective) in Svappavaara and Kiruna jointly shouted out that “we are humans”, “we want higher salaries”, “a safer and more humane workload”. If human dignity, salary, and safe and humane working conditions were essential in the 1969 strike, then […]

Ronja IV


“Last Thursday I sat in the coffee room during a break and drank coffee, like any other Thursday. Suddenly, it sounds as if the mine is about to collapse. During a fraction of a second I think about running for my life and I see that my colleagues think the same. But it seems as if the sound comes from the workshop outside, what is happening? Is the workshop still there? What […]

Load up north


Load up north is an annual fair. What makes it a bit unique, the organizer states, is that the fair also targets recruitment, not only the exhibition of machines and tools. We’re in Boden, Johan’s hometown, so he stops by the fair on August 27 and 28. He meets with a supplier we know very well by now, listens to keynotes arranged by Boden municipality, such as the ones by […]

What is said underground stays…


Is there something special with the comradeship in labour processes in which members perform dangerous tasks, such as in underground mines? We believe so. Ever since Henri Fayol’s famous book on mining and management (at that time called administration) from the early 20th century, the esprit de corps seems to be strong in mining companies. In those times the risks were, of course, higher (many examples from Karl Marx “Capital” are drawn from […]

Mineful art?


On the second floor of Kiruna’s city hall, there’s an exhibition by Kiruna’s association for art (Kiruna Konstgille). The exhibition consists of 100 t-shirts, designed by a variety of local artists (see the video further down, not by us!). The shirts predominantly address the changes that Kiruna is going through and some are relevant to the Kiruna mine and the labour process, or at least we think so. The second […]

Production


We have been invited to visit production facilities above ground, the processes of dressing and concentration. Noisy, greasy, wet, huge machines, a lot of stairs and levels, high-tech control-rooms and hands-on mechanics. Our host (a manager) spends four hours with us, allowing us to shadow him during his workday, taking us to different places. The impression was rather overwhelming, but very rewarding. Seeing, hearing, feeling and having a conversation about the place “while […]