Category Archives: Kiruna

Storyteller #35 – the union and the Summerbirds

Every Summer, LKAB hires several hundreds of so-called “Summerbirds”; people – often young persons who have a break from their studies – that come in to work for a couple of months when ordinary staff are on vacation. As the trend of temporary workers is on the rise in general (although LKAB today work towards decreasing the use of ‘foreign services’), it is interesting to also turn the attention to […]

Storyteller #34 – Kiruna/Sweden/Others?

Another recurrent theme is where the profits from the mining ends up. A common position that we meet is that too little of the surplus is re-invested in the local community and that the owner in the capital Stockholm, the State, grabs too much (and put it to use in the Stockholm area). A manager reflects upon this in a conversation with us: These urban transformations [of Kiruna and Malmberget] […]

Storyteller #33 – work vs community?

Next storyteller is one of the ombudsmen inside the gates, reflecting on the recurrent theme of people doing work in the Kiruna mine but living (and paying taxes) elsewhere: It would be better if they move up, then there might have been more lively here [as in more pulse in the local community]. And there would also be more tax money in this town. This depletes… But if you get […]

New music video!

When we first arrived in Kiruna, early 2015, the downturn of the market was making its impact, inside and outside the gates. The mood in general seemed rather low. This song, “Stänger alla kranar” (in Swedish, roughly translated into “Closing all taps”), came out of how different people talked about the on-going and planned cost reductions in the company, but ended in a bricolage of more than just this. So, […]

Storyteller #32 – next level in the mine?

Just recently, top management has expressed itself in positive terms regarding plans for a new level in the Kiruna mine. The latest one, at 1365 meters below ground, has just recently been completed (although in use for some years already). Expected to last for about 15-20 years, it looks as if the Kirunavaara mine will continue to go deeper, although much is still uncertain. We recalled a discussion with a […]

Storyteller #31 – the role of the union

Next storyteller is one of the local ombudsmen for one of the unions. Our conversation is about how he keeps in contact with the members and what they are interested in. Below, he talks about how members tend to enrol the union in a rather short-sighted way: The members are active when there is a wage movement. Or when jobs are threatened. Then they come. […] Very seldom do they […]

The process of writing a paper…

We’re writing a paper on the Kiruna case. We’ve been going at it for quite some time and although we’re nudging it forward, we never seem to remember that each paper is a quagmire. And, as soon as we’re writing, we don’t blog. Why? Because you wouldn’t be interested in the writing process perhaps. Or perhaps we don’t know how to write about our own writing process… One try: we start […]

Visiting Kiruna again

Its been a while since we were in Kiruna and although in a writing-up phase, Johan went up there earlier this week, meeting with some of those we’ve talked to over the years (and some new ones!) as well as experiencing first hand how the movement of the city centre due to the expanding mine is progressing. Most of those whom Johan talks to are frustrated over the fact that […]

Storytellers #29 and #30 – using local contractors

The general trend in the mining industry is to increase the use of contractors in order to be more flexible, adaptable and cost-effective. Whether this is achieved can be debated, but the trend is clear and although the markets for iron ore (the Kiruna case) and uranium (the McArthur River/Key Lake case) are different, they are both nevertheless highly influenced by ‘boom and bust’, ‘feast and famine’. Walking the fine […]

Storyteller #28 – mining and community

Next storyteller is a man from Saskatchewan, Canada, living in a small town up north called La Ronge. He works at MCA. When reflecting over the challenges for northern communities where a large portion work for the mining industry, he praises Cameco, the company, for its efforts, but also emphasises the many challenges still to deal with. This quote about La Ronge comes to mind as we’re daily seeing pictures […]

A unique workplace

They’re not easy to find and haven’t been re-issued, the 4×400 pages doctoral dissertation in economic history by Ulf Eriksson, entitled “Gruva och arbete. Kiirunavaara 1890-1990” (in Swedish, translated as “Mine and work. Kiirunavaara 1890-1990”). Published and defended in 1991 at Uppsala University, Eriksson (from Kiruna) presents an impressive, predominantly empirical, labour process history from inside the gates of the Kiruna mine. We have once again got our hands on […]

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 #27 – an offer you can resist…

Next storyteller works for an employment agency in the Kiruna region. We talked about how they worked with recruitment for the mining sector in and around Kiruna, and how that oftentimes involves not only a potential miner but also his/her family. – This issue with ”tandem recruitment”, that we work with… – What’s that? – Well, oftentimes you work with, as in Kiruna for example, getting people to move here […]