Coal Mining in Svalbard – Store Norske & Arktikugol – Norway

Svalbard Map with Operating Mining Companies Norway

With only a population of 2,753, 423 of those being either Russian or Ukrainian, Svalbard is what is referred to as Norway’s Arctic archipelago of islands.  According to the Svalbard Act of 1925, Svalbard is established as both a free economic zone, and a demilitarized zone.  The economy relies mainly on the coal production of two mining companies.  One Russian, one Norwegian.  The map above displays the property claims of the mining companies operating in Svalbard.

Store Norske  Spitsbergen Kulkompani AS (SNSK) – The Norwegian state-owned mining company fully owns the following 3 subsidiaries.

  • Store Norske Spitsbergen Grubekompani AS (SNSG)- Owns properties that encompass an area of approx. 2000 sq. kilometers within Svalbard.  Operates the Svea Nord coal mine, along with the Gruve 7 coal mine.  Measured coal reserves and probable resources in 2010 were measured to be 20.4 and 3.5 million tonnes respectively.  Coal sales in 2010 and 2009 were 1.7 and 2.5 million tonnes respectively.  In 2010, 1.5% of coal was kept in Svalbard for energy use, where 53% of coal was exported to Germany.
  • Store Norske Boliger AS – Manages Store Norske owned lodgings which are rented out to company employees.
  • Store Norske Gull AS – Gold, nickel, and PGM operations in Troms and Finnmark.

Arktikugol – This Russian state-owned coal mining company operates an area of 251 sq. kilometers in which the mainly Russian and Ukrainian settlement Barentsburg (Баренцбург) is located.  Russia currently works to increase its presence within Svalbard by improving the living conditions of those that work there, supporting economic growth, and attracting Russian and foreign investments.  The company is heavily subsidized by The Russian Federation.  Arktikugol consists of 3 parts.

  • Barentsburg Mine – Coal reserves are estimated to measure 2 million tonnes. Most Barentsburg coal is exported to Denmark, Portugal, and Spain.
  • Grumant Coal Field – This undeveloped field is assumed to hold coal reserves of approx. 30 million tonnes.
  • Pyramiden – Abandoned in 1998, the mining settlement used to be home to over 1000 people.

Climate-Gas Emissions – One would assume that a micro-economy based off of coal production would yield significant climate gas emissions such as CO2, methane, and SO2.  From the Norwegian Ministry of the Environment, we have the following climate gas data for Svalbar for 2007.  Emissions are quite obviously a strong function of local mining industry dynamics and thus vary from year to year.

  • CO2 – 424,787 tons, 42% of which comes from coal-based energy production.  International marine cruise traffic accounts for 15%, marine coal transport from Svalbard to other countries accounts for 13%,  marine cruise/research vessels account for 8%.
  • SO2 – 1,255 tons, 91% of which comes from coal-based energy production.
  • Methane – 3400 tons, 98% of which comes from coal production.

In addition to mining activities, the tourism industry provides economic support, along with the two major research facilities located near the town of Longyearbyen which are listed below.

  • University Centre in Svalbard – Norwegian state-owned university focusing on Arctic studies.
  • The Svalbard Global Seed Vault – Commonly referred to by conspirators as the global doomsday seed vault, the Global Seed Vault is a store of plant seeds that are to be a form of insurance against a major global crisis.  Many different organizations provide funding for the operation which include the government of Norway, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Sources

  • Store Norske 2010 Annual Report – http://www.snsk.no/getfile.php/1669680.1589.qrrvvcscua/AR_2010.pdf
  • Арктикуголь Шпицберген – http://www.arcticugol.ru/
  • Klima OG Forurensnings Direktoratet – Climate Influencing Emissions, Scenarios and Mitigation Options at Svalbard – http://www.klif.no/publikasjoner/2552/ta2552.pdf
  • The University Centre in Svalbard – http://www.unis.no/
Advertisements