Kiruna is a small city of 18.000 inhabitants situated over the Arctic Circle, the northernmost city of Sweden. It's the place where the largest underground Iron Ore mine of the world is found, with a metal extension of 4km in length, 80m in width and 2km deep. The history of Kiruna is linked with the mine itself: it was founded in 1902 to house the employees of the mine and inaugurated one year after by the King. Being situated in Lapland where the temperature in winter falls as low as -40°C, the climatic conditions are not favorable for transportation. At the beginning of the exploitation of the mine in the 19th century the transportation was carried out on the ice with sleds drawn by reindeer and horses. Later a new expensive railway line, paid by the mining company, was built to connect Kiruna with the coast of Norway, where thanks to the Gulf current, temperatures are milder and the sea is never frozen, compared to the closest sea port of Sweden, Lulea, were the sea in winter is permanently frozen and there is no access for big freight ships.
After the completion of the almost 200 km of railway in 1902, another city was founded because of the mine' s business: Narvik in the Norwegian coast, that today count 20.000 inhabitants. It's still there that most of the iron ore is transported to be shipped over the sea. All day long there is a constant flow of huge trains full of precious metal. Every year over 26 million tonnes of iron ore are extracted, and the mine is extending toward the city. That's why for safety reason in 2004 was decided that the whole city center will be moved and either rebuild or “transported” in a safer area at the east of the actual city.
Following the route of the iron ore minerals through photos
View of Kiruna from the old mine on Luossavaara hill. The center of the city, visible in the picture, will be relocated because of the extension of the new mine, visible in the background where a huge hole and Kiirunavaara hill are located.
Sign of the extraction are visible at Luossavaara hill where the exploitation of the mine started. Today is not active anymore and it was transformed instead into a ski slope.
On top of the mine, it's possible to admire old machines used previously used for the extraction of the iron ore minerals.
A big wound on the ground, not far from the city, is visible, but much bigger wounds are hidden underground
Every year over 26 million tonnes of iron ore are extracted and transported by train to the Norwegian Coast
All day long there is a constant flow of huge trains full of precious Iron Ore metals extracted from the mine, directed toward the harbour of Narvik in Norway
There is a local train station in Kiruna, but the railway is used almost exclusively by the mine company. Passenger trains are really scarce.
This train, running through the snow in Björkliden, is going back empty in Kiruna after having left its iron load in Narvik
In Narvik is eventually arriving most of the iron ore extracted in Kiruna.
The iron ore is then loaded into a freight vessel to be shipped by sea.
A closer view of a freight vessel transporting the iron ore mineral.
The closest exit on the Swedish sea, Lulea, was not taken into consideration for the transportation of the metal, because the sea here is permanently frozen during winter.