DEEP-LEVEL mining of iron ore will require the relocation of Sweden's Malmbanan at Kiruna, as the present alignment of the Luleå - Narvik main line will be affected by ground deformation.

According to Thomas Nordmark of mining company LKAB, the new line will be around 20 km long and has to be constructed by 2012. By that time mining operations will be approaching the town of Kiruna, where plans call for the entire town to be moved, with the railway among the first elements of local infrastructure to be relocated.

Banverket will be responsible for construction of the new line, for which initial work is expected to start in 2008.

The ore body dips at an angle towards the town, and mining is currently taking place 1 045 m below the surface. By 2012 mining will have reached a depth of 1 365 m; although the void left by the ore extraction is backfilled with waste rock, ground deformation and subsidence are inevitable.