Then we go into the pit, said Mr. Olle Baltzari at Aitik New Boliden. He was explaining what was ahead on our tour of the mine outside Gällivare. It was more like the Grand Canyon.
On our trip along the Midnight Sun Road in 2012, we missed a visit to Aitik. Back again in 2014, we were smoothing over some of the dips. Aitik was one of the most important items on our itinerary. On our schedule this particular Tuesday morning was the only option we had to shake Olle’s hand. We drove straight from Kautokeino to the “pit” in Gällivare: Five hours, 370 km. It was our longest stretch without making any blog post and film clip.
It was also the first really wet leg we had on the entire 15-day Diamonds of the Arctic Tour 2014. Luckily, the sun broke through the clouds. We were given a majestic opportunity to see the whole “pit”.
In August 2014, the pit was several kilometers long and wide, and several hundred meters deep. The giant monster trucks, bulldozers and excavators seemed to be tiny matchbox cars from the King’s View. This was the view point made for H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf when he opened a new pit in 2010.
The new pit in the largest copper mine in Europe is a continuation of the strong mining industrial history of Sweden. The mine in Gällivare is just massive; it produced 36 million tons in 2013. As the H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf said in August 2010:
Sweden has a history of ore-mining and metal production stretching back more than a thousand years. Access to ore and minerals and the knowledge of how to use them has been closely linked with Sweden’s development throughout history, and has contributed towards the prosperity we enjoy today
The mining business in Gällivare is totally different to the one we experienced in Luosto. The mining operations of Gällivare are challenging the life of reindeer herders. It is difficult to argue with a business where the maintenance cost of tires alone is comparable to the total revenue of the Swedish reindeer meat production.
In a Grand Canyon even the footnotes become big.