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Monthly Archives: November 2018 − News


Good times for mine 7

Mine 7, the last Nor­we­gi­an coal mine in Spits­ber­gen still acti­ve, has a histo­ry of 52 years – qui­te impres­si­ve for a coal mine and cer­tain­ly more than most others in Sval­bard. And it loo­ks like 2018 will be the best of the­se 52 years. The amount of coal pro­du­ced is abo­ve expec­ta­ti­on and so are the coal pri­ces on the world mar­ket.

Mine 7

Day plant of mine 7 in Advent­da­len, 12 km sou­the­ast of Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

The 2018 pro­duc­tion in mine 7 was sche­du­led to amount to 130,000 tons, a quan­ti­ty that was alrea­dy reached in Octo­ber, as Sval­bard­pos­ten repor­ted.

But even more important than the good pro­duc­tion is the deve­lo­p­ment of world mar­ket pri­ces. In spring 2018, less than 40 US-$ were paid for a ton of coal. Sin­ce then, the pri­ce has more than dou­bled and has now sta­bi­li­sed bet­ween 95 and a good 100 US-$. This deve­lo­p­ment has hel­ped mine 7 to the best year in its histo­ry, eco­no­mi­c­al­ly. Good rea­son for the 40 miners to be hap­py – and to wel­co­me 4 more col­leagues in their team soon.

The main cus­to­mers for mine 7 coal are the local power plant in Lon­gye­ar­by­en and a Ger­man com­pa­ny cal­led Cla­ri­ant which is buy­ing 60,000 tons per year. For both, the pri­ce is based on the average pri­ce of the last 3 years, giving both the pro­du­cer, Store Nor­ske Spits­ber­gen Kull­kom­pa­ni, and the cus­to­mers plan­ning relia­bi­li­ty.

Svea Nord, Sveagruva

The coal mines Svea Nord and Lunck­ef­jel­let at Sveagru­va were final­ly clo­sed in 2016. Cur­r­ent­ly, Store Nor­ske could pro­bab­ly make good pro­fit in Svea.

This good eco­no­mi­c­al deve­lo­p­ment gives the decisi­on of the Nor­we­gi­an government to dis­con­ti­nue mining in Sveagru­va, whe­re a new mine was ful­ly pre­pa­red in Lunck­ef­jel­let but never put into pro­duc­ti­ve ope­ra­ti­on, an extra bit­ter tas­te, seen from the per­spec­ti­ve of the Store Nor­ske Spits­ber­gen Kull­kom­pa­ni and their employees. Many miners lost their jobs after this decisi­on – which was based on eco­no­mi­c­al rea­so­ning. Ins­tead, lar­ge amounts of money will now be spent on a lar­ge clean-up in Sveagru­va. The recent deve­lo­p­ment is likely to fuel the deba­te about the future of mining in Svea, a dis­cus­sion that the government in Oslo offi­cial­ly has decla­red as clo­sed.

Bar­ents­burg-Pan­ora­mas now new­ly sor­ted and acces­si­ble through a map

The dark sea­son in the Arc­tic is a good peri­od to get desk­top table pro­jects done which have been wai­t­ing alrea­dy for too long. Such as get­ting the collec­tion of 360 degree pan­ora­mas from Bar­ents­burg sor­ted, which until now had been cram­ped tog­e­ther on just one page, making it dif­fi­cult espe­cial­ly for tho­se who had not been to Bar­ents­burg in real life to under­stand the­re whe­rea­bouts. Now, nagi­va­ti­on is much easier, as all pla­ces have got their own indi­vi­du­al page and now the bre­we­ry “Red bear”, the hotel, Lenin, the old muse­um in the Cul­tu­re House, the cha­pel and other sites are acces­si­ble through a map which pro­vi­des easy ori­en­ta­ti­on.

Barentsburg Panorama

Bar­ents­burg Pan­ora­ma: Lenin in focus.

Click here to access the map with the Bar­ents­burg pan­ora­mas and enjoy your vir­tu­al tour!

Ener­gy and hea­ting in Lon­gye­ar­by­en: hea­ting like hell

Ener­gy con­sump­ti­on in Lon­gye­ar­by­en is high abo­ve the average in main­land Nor­way.

Hea­ting is pro­vi­ded in Lon­gye­ar­by­en by long-distance hea­ting from the coal power plant, and the locals are generous when using this pre­cious resour­ce. The rea­son is not only the cold cli­ma­te, which in fact is not even that much col­der in the mari­ti­me cli­ma­te of Spits­ber­gen com­pa­red to con­ti­nen­tal parts of Scan­di­na­via. Bad insu­la­ti­on of buil­dings is amongst the main rea­sons. Lon­gye­ar­by­en was a mining sett­le­ment for much of its histo­ry and the buil­dings were ori­gi­nal­ly inten­ded for use during shor­ter peri­ods only rather than by a more or less per­ma­nent local popu­la­ti­on. This is reflec­ted by cheap and simp­le con­struc­tion methods whe­re insu­la­ti­on was obvious­ly not a prio­ri­ty. Many buil­dings in Lon­gye­ar­by­en date back to years befo­re 1970, and Nor­we­gi­an buil­ding regu­la­ti­ons did not come into for­ce in Spits­ber­gen befo­re 2012. Buil­ding qua­li­ty may be chan­ging qui­te quick­ly now, as many older houses have to be aban­do­ned due to avalan­che risks and a lot of houses will be built in the years to come.

Addi­tio­nal­ly, the ener­gy con­sump­ti­on and hea­ting habits of many locals are not exact­ly cha­rac­te­ri­zed by ambi­tious ener­gy-saving. Some are said to open the win­dow rather than turn the hea­ting down. Ther­mo­stats are the excep­ti­on rather than the rule. Hea­ting cos­ts are based on living space rather than actu­al con­sump­ti­on. And many live in flats pro­vi­ded by their employ­ers, who also covers the run­ning cos­ts.

Energy and heating in Longyearbyen

Hea­ting in Spits­ber­gen: lar­ge oven, poor insu­la­ti­on.

Many inha­bi­tants con­si­der Lon­gye­ar­by­en and their own life and habits as envi­ron­ment­al­ly friend­ly, but rea­li­ty may be dif­fe­rent, loo­king at electri­ci­ty use, hea­ting and traf­fic habits. If peop­le in Lon­gye­ar­by­en were hea­ting as peop­le in main­land Nor­way do, ener­gy con­sump­ti­on rela­ted to hea­ting would drop by about 40 %. In win­ter, the poten­ti­al to save ener­gy is even hig­her, as repor­ted in an arti­cle in Teknisk Uke­b­lad.

Also regar­ding electri­ci­ty, matching local habits to main­land man­ners would redu­ce the con­sump­ti­on quick­ly by 15 %. Pas­si­ve houses would incre­a­se the reduc­tion to an impres­si­ve 25 %.

The next years may bring impro­ve­ment due to the high cur­rent con­struc­tion acti­vi­ties. Tech­ni­cal pos­si­bi­li­ties to impro­ve insu­la­ti­on of exis­ting houses are also work in pro­gress.

So is the pri­ma­ry ener­gy pro­duc­tion in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. The only thing that is clear is that the cur­rent coal power plant will not be the long-term solu­ti­on, but nobo­dy knows what is to come then. Many opti­ons have been dis­cus­sed over many years, inclu­ding a new coal power plant, gas, pos­si­b­ly com­bi­ned with rene­wa­ble ener­gy (wind? Solar power? ..?) and even a cable to the main­land. A decisi­on has not yet been made.

Pri­son sen­tence for dis­tur­bing polar bears in Bill­efjord by dri­ving car on ice

A Nor­we­gi­an court has deli­ve­r­ed a jud­ge­ment in the case of a man who dis­tur­bed polar bears in Bill­efjor­den ear­lier this year by dri­ving on the fjord ice by car.

The 58 year old Ukrai­ni­an citi­zen was living and working in Pyra­mi­den. He went out on the fjord ice by car to pick up two col­leagues who had been on tour. Ins­tead of going direct­ly back to Pyra­mi­den, they deci­ded to take a turn into neigh­bou­ring Petu­nia­buk­ta to check the con­di­ti­on of a hut. Accord­ing to the dri­ver, he was not awa­re of the pre­sence of two polar bears who were mating at the time in ques­ti­on. He saw the bears at a distance of 50 metres and stop­ped immedia­te­ly. The polar bears aban­do­ned their mating.

Polar bears on fjord ice

Polar bear fami­ly on fjord ice in Isfjord.

The Ukrai­ni­an dri­ver did not have a driver’s licen­se, this had been with­drawn by Nor­we­gi­an aut­ho­ri­ties ear­lier this year becau­se of other traf­fic offen­ces. Accord­ing to the Sys­sel­man­nen, this con­tri­bu­t­ed to the cur­rent court jud­ge­ment, tog­e­ther with the fact that it is gene­ral­ly not allo­wed to dri­ve a car on fjord ice (or any­whe­re else other than on roads) in Spits­ber­gen. Dis­tur­bing of the polar bears alo­ne would not have been suf­fi­ci­ent for a pri­son sen­tence.

The man was sen­ten­ced to 30 days of pri­son without pro­ba­ti­on.

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