LKAB Visitor Centre

LKAB InfoMine Kiruna - Kiruna Iron Ore Mine


Useful Information

Location: Lars Janssonsgatan 17, Kiruna.
Tour starts at the LKAB Visitor Centre in Kiruna.
(67.856307, 20.225635)
Open: All year daily 9, 15.
[2022]
Fee: Adults SEK 410, Children (6-15) SEK 105, Children (0-5) not allowed, Students SEK 310, Seniors SEK 310.
[2022]
Classification: MineIron mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: T=8-12 ºC.
Guided tours: Ar=20,000 m². D=3 h.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Erik Jonsson, Valentin R. Troll, Karin Högdahl, Chris Harris, Franz Weis, Katarina P. Nilsson, Alasdair Skelton (2013): Magmatic origin of giant ‘Kiruna-type’ apatite-iron-oxide ores in Central Sweden. Scientific Reports 3, 1-8, Article number: 1644 (2013). DOI pdf
Address: Kiruna Tourism Office, Lars Janssonsgatan 17, SE-98131 Kiruna, 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.

History

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.

Geology

The ore seam at Kiruna is 4 km long, 80-120 m thick and reaches a depth of 2 km. Kiruna Mine is the largest and most modern underground iron ore mine of the world.

The Kiruna ore body 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 sedimentary 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.

Description

The visit of the LKAB Visitor Centre (formerly known as 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 visitor mine 540 m below surface is entered by coach.

The so called InfoMine, lately renamed LKAB Visitor Centre is a vast underground museum with an area of 20,000 m². It is located 540 m below surface, above the present production level, which is between 775 m and 1045 m. 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.

The visit is due to the enormous technical effort for reaching the 540 m deep level very restricted. The number of visitors is limited, it is necessary to book online and refunds are hard to get. Also, you should be there at least 15 minutes before the start. On the tour the strict mine security and safety rules apply, this is not a stroll through a museum, its a mine tour in a working mine. The unique experience is definitely worth the effort and the money, but we recommend to be quite accurate with the rules.

Very few people work underground. The seams are drilled by remote operated drills. Huge Finnish-built driver less 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 it is dropped to the 1,045 m 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.