In 2014, LKAB began a collaboration with the international experts at RePlan, who have years of experience with urban transformation for the mining industry. We interviewed their urban planner Graeme Burt, who visited LKAB’s operations several times in the last year.
Graeme sees urban transformation as a prerequisite for LKAB’s future success, just as it is for most mining companies around the
world. RePlan is currently working on urban transformation projects related to mining operations in 15 countries, including Canada, the US, Greece, Albania, Turkey and a number of Latin American and African countries. Through this partnership, LKAB has access to international practices based on extensive experience.
Often when reading about LKAB’s urban transformation, it is described as unique and something that has never been done before. Our cooperation with RePlan has provided a new perspective and insight that this type of project is not as unusual as one might first think. Internationally, there are many experiences and much knowledge that LKAB can and should learn from. Although no two cases are alike, many of the challenges and lessons are the same. The uniqueness of LKAB’s case is that urban transformation in Kiruna is about moving an entire city centre. Something that is unusual, especially in developed countries.
In this case, moreover, a century-old beautiful city. It is expensive, places great demands on collaboration and an ability to meet the many needs of stakeholders, according to Graeme.
In RePlan’s experience, successful urban transformation is primarily about engagement at both societal and individual levels. The mining company must have a good relationship and communicate clearly with both. Trust is built by being engaged, constantly keeping the community and its individuals informed and creating forums for dialogues. Something that RePlan believes that LKAB has been very successful with so far.
LKAB’s vision for community planning is developing before phasing out, that is, taking more time to prepare new areas before having to empty existing ones. The purpose is to build trust, generate enthusiasm and give people a picture of the new community that will emerge.