Entire Swedish Town Prepares to Get Up and Move

(Casper Hedberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

ABC News' Rashid Haddou reports:

They're going to need a bigger van.

You've heard of people moving their homes. You might have even heard of buildings being moved. But an entire city?

That's the mission facing beautiful Kiruna, Sweden, 90 miles south of the Arctic Circle.

They're not moving far - just 2 miles east. But they need to move.

That's because the town happens to be home to one of the world's largest underground iron ore mines. And the state-controlled mining company says after years of mining, the earth below the 18,000 residents' homes is no longer stable.

So, in an unprecedented move, the whole city is being relocated.

In 2004, Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara AB (LKAB) alerted authorities that by digging deeper to extract more iron ore, they would likely cause a fracturing of the ground underneath the city.

The decision was taken to relocate the city, and has so far taken almost 10 years to plan.

In March, Stockholm-based architectural firm White arkitekter AB won a competition with its proposal titled "Kiruna 4-ever."

"To design what basically is a completely new city is a historic task and a unparalleled opportunity for us as architects," said Monica von Schmalensee, CEO of White arkitekter, in a statement on the firm's website.

Most buildings will simply be torn down, AFP reports, but some of those seen as being Kiruna landmarks - such as the old church, voted in 2001 as Sweden's most beautiful building - will be dismantled and reassembled in their entirety at new locations.

Swedish state-owned miner LKAB has already dished out $527 million to move Kiruna and has set aside an additional 7.5 billion Swedish kroner (well over a billion dollars) for the remaining transformation, according to figures released on LKAB's website

The move, however, will not be quick. The mining company aims to complete it by 2033.