Norway to shut its last Arctic coal mine in 2023

An old dilapidated factory in Svalbard, where Norway will end coal mining operations in 2023.
An old dilapidated factory in Svalbard, where Norway will end coal mining operations in 2023. Photo by Vince Gx on Unsplash
Norway will in 2023 shut its last coal mine in Svalbard, its operator said Thursday, drawing to a close more than a century of prospecting by Oslo in this Arctic archipelago.

Mine 7 will close in September 2023 after authorities in Longyearbyen, the archipelago’s capital, terminated a contract to supply the local power plant, the Store Norske mining company announced.

The closure won’t spell the end of all mining in this snow-drenched place north of the Arctic Circle, as a Russian company continues to extract coal there, keeping a strategic presence in the Arctic.

“The purpose of Mine 7 is to supply coal to the power plant in Longyearbyen. Now that the coal supply agreement has been terminated, there is no longer any reason to operate the mine,” Store Norske’s director Jan Morten Ertsaas said in a statement.

“We have been producing coal in Svalbard for more than 100 years, so it is kind of special to bring the coal era to a close today,” he added.

Longyearbyen was founded in 1906 by John Munroe Longyear, an American businessman, to mine coal.

In 1920, Norway’s sovereignty over the archipelago was recognised in a treaty that gave other signatory states, including the Soviet Union at the time, permission to engage in economic activities there as well, on an equal footing.

Longyearbyen’s power plant will be fuelled by diesel after the end of coalsupply, until a solution involving renewable energy is set up.


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