The Abyss: Is the Mine in Kiruna Real? Is SMC an Actual Mining Company?

Netflix’s ‘The Abyss’ presents a Swedish disaster film that unfolds in a mining town as it faces the treacherous complications of having mines run below its ground. The town of Kiruna, near the Kiirunavaara mountain, has an expansive iron ore mine that remains the town’s cultural center in many ways. Nevertheless, despite its benefits, the mine also causes significant damage to Kiruna’s structural integrity, leading to a gradual and systemic move. However, the possibility of danger in town exponentiates when the Kiruna mine’s safety manager, Frigga, realizes that a recent rock burst might just lead to the town’s imminent and rapidly approaching collapse.

The film balances the cracks forming throughout the town with the cracks forming within Frigga’s family to creative narrative and emotional friction within the story. As such, the tale remains grounded and feels authentic within its disaster genre. However, fans must be curious to know how much authenticity is behind the Kiruna mines and its SMC mining company that paves the way for the story’s inciting events.

Kiruna Mine Is an Actual Mine

Yes, the Kiruna mine depicted in ‘The Abyss’ is based on a real-life Swedish mine. Situated in Northern Sweden, in the Kiirunavaara mountains, the Kiruna mine is the largest modern underground iron ore mine that has been undergoing mining practices for more than a hundred years. In fact, the mine’s discovery by mining company Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara Aktiebolag (LKAB) led to the foundation of Kiruna town in the first place, effectively cementing the mine as the cause for the town’s existence.

In 2014, the town’s deputy mayor, Niklas Siren, spoke about the same and said, “We are symbiotic: the town is here because of the mine. Otherwise, no devil would have built a city here.” Furthermore, according to a 2020 report by Mining Technology, in the years that the mine has excavated for its iron, 950Mt of ore has been procured, which only amounts to a third of the resource residing within the mines. As such, the Kiruna mine has been a treasured asset for the town for a long time now. Still, the mine isn’t without its repercussions.

With the mine’s expansion deeper underground, the Kiruna mine eventually posed a problem to the city center, which was situated above the mine. As a result, continued mining without the town’s relocation could cause considerable damage to the infrastructure of the buildings above ground. For the same reason, in 2004, it was decided to move the town center three kilometers eastward.

Ultimately, the mine depicted in ‘The Abyss’ is a real-life location in Kiruna. Nevertheless, despite its basis in reality, the events that take place within Kiruna Mine in the film remain a blend of fact and fiction. Although the mine has an influence over the town, it hasn’t yet led to its collapse, with the concept only being a worst-case scenario born from people’s concern. In that regard, we can conclude that while the film bases its depiction of the Kiruna Mine in reality, the narrative revolving around it remains fictional.


Although the film focuses on the mine’s security manager, Frigga, we learn little about the state-owned company that runs the mining operation within the Kiruna Mine. Yet through background logos and assorted signs, the company SMC emerges as the leading force in the town’s mining business. In real life, LKAB, established in 1890, which has been involved in Kiruna’s mining scene for more than the past hundred years, occupies the same space as the film’s company.

Like SMC, LKAB is also a state-owned mining company. Therefore, it’s possible that the film employs the former within its narrative to retain a sense of realism without evoking the real company behind Kiruna’s mining operation. The same is likely done to ensure the narrative doesn’t accidentally affect people’s perception of the real company.

In fact, after the film’s release, LKAB made a statement assuring the viewers that the disaster presented in the film’s narrative cannot actually occur in real life. Therefore, SMC’s fictionalized presence creates some distance between fiction and reality, allowing the film to explore its narrative without sacrificing either creative freedom or authenticity. Nonetheless, even though fans may find some mining companies with similar initialism as SMC from ‘The Abyss,’ the latter is only a fictitious detail.

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