Category Archives: Iron


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 […]

Free spirits (no more lies)

So, we’ve written another song: ”Free spirits (no more lies)”. As we see it, the people we meet in Kiruna are inspiring. Their responses trigger other senses than the research mind. Their stories, the way they tell them, the way they invite us. We are lucky. Music is a way for us to use our artistic license as researchers. This means that the song is not up for a scientific review. It’s […]

The Equation?

Iron ore price down = profitmargins down = productivity up = efficiency up = excavation up = specialization up = ‘cutting programs’ up = number of staff down = learning down = esprit de corps down. As a consequence of our talks to different people in and around Kiruna, this equation has been spinning in our minds. Then all of a sudden (at least for us) the CEO of LKAB, Lars-Eric Aaro, was fired! […]

Checking the plume of smoke

It seems quite common to habitually look at the mine’s chimneys. Why? Well it is an easy measure to check how productive the mine is at the moment. There are three chimneys; a good day is a day with three, well-fed, plumes of smoke. (Mine worker) Coming to Kiruna from our cabin, me and my husband check the chimneys to make sure everything is alright. (White collar worker)  

The Sound

We meet a young woman, she has been working in the mine for about three years. She is moving to the new level at 1365 metres. When the workshop moved down she tells us that she got a bit afraid. At 1365 the sound of the mountain is more vicious. So, how can we account for her story? We turned to music. One output is “The Sound”, a song written and performed by Tommy Jensen […]

Broken memories?

The “body” of the iron ore embedded deep inside the mine stretches towards Kiruna town. The further down the iron ore is extracted the more the city has to be moved. Among the first buildings to go are the city hall and the old railway station, already by 2018. By 2028 the city centre, the church, the hospital, the fire station and a wider range of apartments and independent houses have […]

The red line

LKAB’s core process seems to be taking place below ground (and there are about 500 kilometres roads underground in the Kirunamine) and above ground at the closely related plants. This is what the company refers to as the ”red-line”, basically coinciding with what is happening ”inside the gates”. The control of the red line is crucial as all disruptions to the red line are very costly. But if the labour […]

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 […]