Piece of Svalbard put up for sale

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A large piece of private property on Norway’s Arctic archipelago of Svalbard has been put up for sale on the international market. The unusual real estate offer is expected to attract interested bidders from around the world.

Several of the old buildings in the earlier abandoned mining community of Hiorthamn have been restored for recreational use. The vast area across the fjord from Longyearbyen is popular with local residents and remains rich in natural resources. PHOTO: Wikipedia Commons/Erlend Bjørtvedt

Several of the old buildings in the earlier abandoned mining community of Hiorthamn have been restored for recreational use. The vast area across the fjord from Longyearbyen is popular with local residents and remains rich in natural resources. PHOTO: Wikipedia Commons/Erlend Bjørtvedt

Newspaper VG reported Tuesday that the property, called Austre Adventfjord, is being sold by the Bergen-based family that owns it among  other varied interests. It lies directly across the fjord from Longyearbyen, the largest settlement in Svalbard that lies on the island of Spitsbergen. It’s been a popular holiday area for residents of Longyearbyen and also contains the remains of the mining community of Hiorthhamn and the coal mine itself inside the mountain of Operafjellet.

The sellers are members of the Horn family of Bergen and Trøndelag. Austre Adventfjord is currently owned by the industrialist, investor and farmer Henning Horn, his sisters Elin Horn Galtung and Kari Horn and several descendants of their late brother Johan Jacob Horn, a former Norwegian golf champion who died in 2012. The Horn family has been involved in a variety of companies from mining and chemicals to real estate and shipping through its Norwegian Holding firm based at Paradis outside Bergen.

No price has been attached to the property, which covers 217 square kilometers – in Norwegian terms, roughly equivalent to the entire township of Bærum just west of Oslo. VG reported that major international financial institutions have been hired to find possible buyers.

There’s still estimated to be around 20 million tons of coal on the property that could be mined over a period of around 20 years given today’s technology and coal prices, reported Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). State officials told VG there are no restrictions on the sale as long as the transaction conforms to the Svalbard Treaty that was ratified by more than 40 nations in 1920 and stipulates, among other things, that the area remain free of military operations.

Austre Adventfjord is one of just two privately owned properties on the vast Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, which is subject to the Svalbard Treaty that placed it under Norwegian sovereignty in 1920.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund