|Location:||Kiruna. Tour starts at the Tourist Office in Kiruna.|
All year daily 9, 15.
Adults SEK 240, Children (6-15) SEK 50, Children (0-5) not allowed, Students SEK 140.
|Address:||Kiruna Tourism Office, Tel: +46-980-18880, Fax: +46-980-18286. E-mail:|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|1647||iron ore discovered.|
|1890s||start of open pit mining.|
|1960s||underground mining started.|
|1970||steel markets declined and workers laid off.|
|1990||market recover, mine reopens.|
The ore seam at Kiruna is 4km long, 80-120m thick and reaches a depth of 2km. Kiruna Mine is the largest and most modern underground iron ore mine of the world.
The Kiruna orebody was formed at around 1,600Ma ago following intense volcanic activity. Iron-rich solutions precipitated the iron on to a syenite porphyry footwall. Then the ore bed was covered by further volcanic deposits, quartz porphyry, and sedimetary rocks. Later the whole body was tilted to its current dip of 50 to 60°.
The ore contains a very pure magnetite-apatite mix, black ore contains less apatite than grey ore. Containing more than 60% iron, the ore is of extremely high quality. Magnetite means, the ore contains enough iron to become magnetic. This rare feature of this ore was used hundreds of years ago to make the first compasses.
The visit of the LKAB InfoMine Kiruna is really impressive. The visitors see a still operating mine, which is the biggest iron ore mine in the world. The tour starts with a slide show and a film in a modern multimedia auditorium. Then the visitors mine 540m below surface is entered by coach.
The so called InfoMine is located above the present production level, which is between 775m and 1045m. The different mining technologies used at Kiruna are explained.
Mining started at Kiruna as an open-pit mine, but in the 1960s it went underground. The tour also includes a mining museum, which offers a look back on the mine's history.
Very few people work underground. The seams are drilled by remote operated drills. Huge Finnish-built driverless wheel loaders, follow computer-controlled routes and only stop at piles of broken rock to collect the ore. At this point an operator sitting in front of a TV screen on the surface loads the ore and carries it to shaft where is is dropped to the 1,045m level where it is crushed and then hoisted to the surface to be processed.
A recent article in the Daily Telegraph (September 25, 2004) states that geological forecast say that fissures spreading from the mine and it is feared that that in 20 years time the whole town will disappear into the mine.
Text by Tony Oldham (2005). With kind permission.