This job takes me to a range of interesting places but it is not often in the space of a few hours that I end up 500 metres underground and then in a bedroom five degrees below freezing!
Such was my contrasting experience on my visit to Kiruna this week. As guest of LKAB, which produces over 90% of all the iron ore mined in Europe, I visited the Kiruna mine and saw the combination of high technology and innovation that produces almost 30 million tons of iron ore every year. Part of the town of Kiruna will soon be moved a few kilometres to the east as a result of the need to continue the huge mining enterprise in the town.
Later that same day I was privileged to visit the fantastic Ice Hotel just outside Kiruna. It was amazing to see so many beautiful sculptures in ice, by designers from around the world include the UK.
It struck me that here was a town being partially dismantled and moved to cope with the demands of industry, and here was a hotel made out of ephemeral products, which will disappear entirely in a few months time only to be recreated in another form at the end of the year.
It made me focus on the importance of change and innovation. That was also a theme of the second day of my trip to Kiruna where the local municipality and small business association introduced me to a range of impressive small companies operating in Kiruna with products as diverse as toilet paper holders for the disabled, space tourism, the removal of toxic sewage and pills to treat plaque in dogs, cats and humans! We hope some business opportunities to and from the UK will arise from the contacts that happened in Kiruna.
A few photos from my time in Kiruna can be found here.