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Daily Archives: 5. May 2008 − News & Stories


Van Mijenfjord – Sveagru­va – Lun­ckef­jel­let

Van Mijenfjord is the ship­ping rou­te to the Nor­we­gi­an mining sett­le­ment of Sveagru­va. It is most­ly blo­cked by the long, nar­row island of Akseløya, which increa­ses the local fjord ice deve­lo­p­ment signi­fi­cant­ly. Recent­ly, Norway’s stron­gest ice­brea­k­er, KV “Sval­bard”, had to give up brea­king the ice to Sveagru­va in a distance of 10-12 kilo­me­t­res to the sett­le­ment. The thic­k­ness of the ice was near one met­re, and one out of four main engi­nes of the ves­sel was not working. Fol­lo­wing behind KV “Sval­bard” was a car­go ves­sel with sup­pli­es and equip­ment for the mine. The­se had to be unloa­ded in Lon­gye­ar­by­en and taken to Sveagru­va on the ground with bull­do­zers and by air.

KV “Sval­bard” had alre­a­dy bro­ken a lead through most of the length of the fjord. Becau­se of its uni­que geo­gra­phy (blo­cked by the abo­ve-men­tio­ned island) and in the light of recent cli­ma­te chan­ges, the fjord is the only one on the west coast of Spits­ber­gen whe­re regu­lar local ice for­ma­ti­on is likely to occur for some time in the future. Fjord ice is an important habi­tat for arc­tic wild­life spe­ci­es such as seals who give birth to their off­spring on fjor ice and for Polar bears as hun­ting ground and so on.

Brea­king the ice in Van Mijenfjord regu­lar­ly is thus cri­ti­cis­ed by envi­ron­men­tal orga­ni­sa­ti­ons. It is one of the reasons why many are scep­ti­cal to the plans of the SNSK (Nor­we­gi­an mining com­pa­ny) to estab­lish a new coal mine at Lun­ckef­jel­let north of Sveagru­va. Ano­ther reason is the lar­ge amount of car­bon that is stored in the ground in shape of coal, which would be released to the atmo­sphe­re in case of mining and sub­se­quent bur­ning.

SNSK argues that their coal is more envi­ron­men­tal­ly fri­end­ly than other coal on the world mar­ket due to its low metha­ne con­tent. During mining of one ton in Svea, only 0,9 m3 of metha­ne are released to the atmo­sphe­re in con­trast to 20-40 m3 as the glo­bal avera­ge, accor­ding to SNSK.

Ano­ther argu­ment used against the plans for a new mine is the posi­ti­on very clo­se to the boun­da­ries of the Nor­dens­ki­öld Land Natio­nal Park (part­ly even insi­de). Regu­la­ti­ons for pro­tec­ted are­as in Spits­ber­gen are very strict.

SNSK plans to open the new mine in 2013.

Fjord ice in Van Mijenfjord i April.

Van Mijenfjord - Sveagruva - Lunckefjellet - data-lazy-src=

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