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Swedish town being moved two miles down the road

The LKAB mine under Kiruna has started to cause cracks on city streets that officials said would worsen as mining continues.

By Ben Hooper

KIRUNA, Sweden, April 24 (UPI) -- A Swedish state-owned mining company has started the process of moving the center of an arctic town two miles down the road.

Kiruna, the northernmost municipality in Sweden, began Wednesday the process of moving the center of the city two miles to allow the LKAB iron ore mine to expand to under the current city center.

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LKAB said the process of moving 3,000 apartments -- which house about 6,000 of the city's estimated 23,000 residents -- and other buildings is estimated to cost $1.4 billion and the entire process will take about 10 years.

The first housing development to be moved was demolished Wednesday. The residents of the development were moved to a new building only a few hundred yards from the original.

LKAB said some buildings, including a century-old church, are being moved brick by brick, while others, including the historic City Hall, are simply too large to move and will be replaced.

"Much of the new town square and business district will be ready to move into in 2019," City Manager Peter Niemi told Radio Sweden, "if everything goes as planned. But if there's anything we've learned in our city planning, it's that we have to be flexible. In the worst case there could be a delay of up to two years."

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Officials said the mine has grown closer and closer to the city in recent years and had started to cause cracks on city streets. They said the cracks would only get worse as mining continues.

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