Around 100 workers at the Store Norske mine on Norway’s Arctic archipelago of Svalbard are being laid off, as a result of low coal prices and cost-cutting needs at the mining company that was founded in 1916.
Store Norske still operates three coal mines on Svalbard that together have employed around 340 people. Now a third of them are losing their jobs, which local board leader Christin Kristoffersen of the Labour Party called “especially sad” just before Christmas.
The job cuts won’t be enough to generate profits for Store Norske, with the company warning in a press release on Monday that additional cost-cutting measures are expected.
The company announced that operations at its Svea Nord and Lunckefjell mines, both located around 60 kilometers north of Longyearbyen, would be reduced. Operations will be maintained at current levels at the Gruve 7 mine just outside Longyearbyen.
The Lunckefjell mine just opened earlier this year, but coal prices have plummeted since, with little prospect of an upturn. UN officials have called on Norway to close the coal mines on Svalbard, claiming they are out of step with the climate research programs Svalbard is renowned for.