Tag Archives: coal crisis

FINAL CLOSURE: Government recommends permanent shutdown of mining at Svea, Lunckefjell

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Hopes of resuming large-scale coal mining in Svalbard were dashed Thursday morning – probably permanently – as the Norwegian government is recommending Svea and Lunckefjell remain closed, and that maintenance of the mines cease and most of the infrastructure be removed. 

Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of Sept. 26, 2017

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Final fate of Svea and Lunckefjell mines may be determined Oct. 12
The few employees left at Svea will learn if the government supports resuming operations at the coal mine, as well as the one nearby at Lunckefjell, when the proposed national budget for 2018 is submitted Oct. 12.

Dire dozen: Number of people employed in Longyearbyen drops 12 percent due largely to mining, construction losses

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The number of people employed in Longyearbyen dropped 12 percent between 2015 and 2016, due primarily to Store Norske completing its large-scale layoffs and suspending most of its mining operations, according to Statistics Norway.

Working out: Store Norske avoids possible strike, may possibly strike it rich by reopening mines

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Store Norske just finished shutting nearly everything down four months ago and most of the relatively few remaining workers were talking about going on strike. But the labor dispute was resolved quickly last week and a sustained rebound in coal prices is allowing the company putting together a proposal to resume operations at one or both of its two main mines next year.

Scrappy birthday: Government proposes giving Store Norske 244M more in funding, loans to cope with debt

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It might not be the gift Store Norske wants, but it’s apparently the gift the company needs on its 100th birthday as the Norwegian government is proposing giving the company an additional 244 million kroner in funding and loans to allow the company to refinance existing debt.

Pity party? Perhaps not, as Store Norske may have reason for hope during celebrations of its 100th birthday

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Last month the company finished shutting down almost everything and laying off almost everyone. This month – and next – the company is the cause of much celebrating.

The coal company’s 100th birthday is Nov. 30 and it’s safe to say the mood isn’t quite what many in Longyearbyen would have liked or expected before a coal price crash sent the company into an economic tailspin and near bankruptcy. But young and old alike are offering a variety of tributes to the company that until the crash was the town’s economic cornerstone.

Power hungry: 20 witnesses detail Svalbard’s future needs during Parliament hearing on revised ‘white paper’

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It’s a long wish list and not exactly new, but now it’s officially on the agenda of the deciders.

An underwater power cable from the mainland, revised air traffic regulations, speeding up development of the fishing industry, investing heavily in infrastructure and figuring out what to do with Store Norske were among the many items presented by 20 witnesses last week during a hearing by Parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Heavy load: Last shipment of coal from Svea also means reluctant end for some longtime residents

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Even after 39 years of working at the mines there’s no seniority rule to save Kjell Pettersen’s job or to keep him from being forced to leave Svalbard.

The 64-year-old is preparing for the trip he takes to Thailand at then end of every mining season. But this time the return journey will stop short of the archipelago as Store Norske, which officially ceased mining at Svea on Saturday, no longer needs the services of the company Pettersen works for.

It’s official – we’re in a depression: 16 percent drop of Svalbard’s economic activity in 2015 fueled by 40 percent drop in mining and transport

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A depression is defined as a 10 percent drop in economic activity or a downturn lasting more than two years. Svalbard has already blown through the first qualification with a 15.8 percent drop in activity in 2015 and stands a good chance of meeting the second this year.

The downturn was caused by a 39 percent drop in mining-related activity, which in turn fueled a 43.1 percent drop in transportation and storage, activity, according to Statistics Norway.

But despite the sharp downturn, employment in the archipelago actually rose one percent compared to 2014 due largely to increased activity in tourism and recreation, with tourism surpassing mining as the biggest employer. That may be a sign of Longyearbyen making a quick and drastic change from its century-long history as a coal mining one due to what the agency described as a “rapid growth in part-time jobs.”

Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of July 26, 2016

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Coal prices rebound, but not enough for profitable mining
Store Norske’s final months of full-scale mining-related activities are both busy and more lucrative than expected as prices have risen from a low of $41 a ton earlier this year to about $60 a ton in mid-July.