The board of the coal mining company on Norway’s Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, Store Norske, has confirmed that at least 150 jobs need to be cut if the company is to stay in business. Low coal prices may finally mean “the beginning of the end” for the coal mining on Svalbard that has been an important source of jobs but long under fire because of its environmental consequences.
UN officials have been among those calling for the mine to be closed, as part of efforts to reverse climate change. Norwegian politicians, who have bailed out Store Norske on numerous occasions, also as late as last year, have been in an awkward position, caught between the need for jobs and a strong presence on Svalbard for strategic reasons but under criticism for allowing coal operations in such an environmentally sensitive area.
Now it appears market factors may force the authorities to find other means of maintaining population on the remote Arctic island. News bureau NTB reported that the coal company’s board also called for a pause in operations at the Lunckefjell mine in Svea for up to three years. The Gruve 7 mine will continue to operate in order to maintain competence. Store Norske had around 255 employees in August.