Kiruna LKAB Sweden

A pearl necklace?

Teenage school children in Kiruna have been working on a project, “The role and function of the mine in society”. They metaphorically depict the mine as the thread that holds the community together, as a necklace. A flavor of the 125 years of common history of the mine and the town. But what does it tell us about the relation between the town (and community) of Kiruna and the country of Sweden? Can the metaphor be stretched that far? Are they the thread that holds the pearl of Sweden together? Our feeling, so far, is that it is possible to stretch the metaphor this far – at least from the point of view of the citizens of Kiruna: They know their historic, contemporary and future importance. They are proud (without being bold), yet mining is not viewed as a pearl necklace without cracks. There are, as we previously have written, two sides of the story, or more.

Source: LKAB Framtid, nr 1 2015, page 3.

Kiruna Supplier

Mining a community

At the time of our first visit, we are told that about 40-45% of all work-hours carried out in the Kiruna mine is done by contractors. Some of them live temporaily in Kiruna (with different duration), something that is rather visible. Some buy and/or rent houses in town, but they are not maintained and temporary houses (we heard the expression “containerliving”) can be observed in the town’s industrial areas. In a discussion with a miner living in Kiruna he says: “Circulation and movement is good for business, but you don’t build a society this way.”

Iron Kiruna LKAB

Four days in Kiruna

We’re in the middle of a heavy snowstorm. Trains are not running, visibility on the roads is lousy, but the pilots in the airplanes report great flying conditions! Different realities to say the least, just as being above and under ground in Kiruna perhaps.

The first project trip to Kiruna, a four days visit, starts off with a four hour tour in the visitors’ mine, 540 metres under ground, and above ground, among the plants. The visitors’ mine constitutes a museum as well as a presentation of contemporary mining, making you travel both in space and time. It’s a unique place for sure, presenting us with a mixed feeling of being amazed of what man can do (the tool-maker, homo Faber, 1365 meters is the new main level) and of the contrast to the beautiful high mountain landscape in which it sits.

After our tour, we shoot some film of the surrounding environment (we’re not allowed to shoot in the mine), but the weather conditions are not great:

The mine and main office.

We also make some interviews, but more on that later!

Kiruna Luleå Researcher Sweden

First interview

This afternoon, Johan met with Curt Persson, historian at Luleå University of Technology and chief of Norrbotten county’s museum. Being from Kiruna, having worked in the mine, and thereafter with culture and history predominantly related to Kiruna and the patron Hjalmar Lundbohm, Curt proved to be a rich source of knowledge. More talks to come we hope! He also gave us a copy of his first book about Lundbohm. In Swedish only, but we’ll write about it further on. Click here to get to the book’s homepage.