Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of Feb. 3, 2015

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Analyst: Goverment facing rising pressure in Austre Adventfjord cases 

The government is facing increasing pressure to resolve ownership and mining disputes on a large parcel of private land across the channel from Longyearbyen put on the market early last year, an analyst claims. Willy Østreng, president of The Norwegian Scientific Academy for Polar Research and former director of the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, said the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries may find itself to blame if it pays a high price for the land due to delays in responding to inquiries from the owner. The government is also preparing for a trial appealing its ruling on who has mining rights to a portion of the Austre Adventfjord tract. The sale of one of Svalbard’s two private land parcels has raised concerns a foreign country such as China may purchase it to establish an Arctic foothold.

Store Norske unloads gold subsidiary after long talks

Store Norske has sold its gold subsidiary to an Alta mining company after months of difficult negotiations, officials said Friday. The sale gives Antaeus AS the exploration rights to 72 sites in the Finnmark and Troms regions, while Store Norske is retaining its rights to 27 sites in Svalbard. Storse Norske announced its intention to sell its mainland rights early last year, but negotiations with three potential buyers proved contentious. The price of the sale was not disclosed, but was not expected to be particularly high.

New student’s lion, ‘Thief,’ wins Solfestuka logo contest

Nora H. Nævdal, 11, experiencing her first winter in the dark, is the winner of this year’s logo competition for the annual Solfestuka festival in March that celebrates the return of the sun. “I thought I’d do something different,” she said. “First I drew a polar bear, but it was a little weird and I saw that there were others making then. The lion’s name, Thief, was inspired by a wayward stroke while she was drawing it.