We lived in our dream home. Then suddenly a huge chasm split our town. Rather than buy a new home for the move, we decided to transplant the house.

I moved to Malmberget – a town in the far north of Sweden, above the Arctic Circle – from a nearby village when I was four. My husband Mikael was born there. Our children, now grown up, were born there. I had a secret wish that we could one day live in the beautiful old house in the centre that belonged to my boss. A big green wooden villa, more than 100 years old, with four bedrooms, a large kitchen, and a rooftop veranda with views towards the mountains – my dream home. When my boss put it on sale in 2009, we couldn’t believe our luck and quickly bought it.

Malmberget was built around an important iron ore mine, founded in 1741 and today run by the state-owned Swedish mining company LKAB. Most people living there were employed by the mine – and as it grew, so did the town. Eventually the mine grew so big that it began to split Malmberget in two – a huge chasm a kilometre long and 200 metres deep had opened up through the centre of town; it was nicknamed Kaptensgropen (“the captain’s pit”). As the hole expanded, buildings around it had to be demolished. People were offered money to leave; many went to Gällivare, another town three miles away. Others moved farther away.

Continue reading…