Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of Nov. 27, 2018


Mine 7 sees record income a year after other Store Norske mining ceases
A year ago Store Norske shut down nearly all of its coal mining operations, but the relatively small-scale production continuing at Mine 7 experienced a record year by achieving the first “real surplus” in the mine’s 52-year history. The mine reached its 2018 production goal of 130,000 tons by mid-October, and is on pace to earn a profit of 12 million to 15 million kroner for the year, said Per Nilssen, the mine’s manager. “It’s obviously enjoyable to see that it’s going well,” said Geir Bjørneseth, who is working at the mine after many years at the now-closed Svea mine. “But it’s tragic to think about what happened to Svea when you see how this is going.” The government-owned Store Norske decided to cease most operations due to a lengthy coal price slump that necessitated several hundred million kroner in loans and assistance to prevent bankruptcy, with prices about $40 a ton at the time. Prices have more than doubled since, but the government is standing by a decision to dismantle the Svea mine and another at Lunckefjellet during the next few years.

Longyearbyen to get second auto repair shop
For several years Svalbard Auto has offered the only vehicle repair/service garage in Longyearbyen, but a competitor is scheduled to open next year. Arctic Spitsbergen Service is owned by seven people including Arild Tistel, the board chairman and owner of a vehicle workshop in Førde, who said he received a call from a Longyearbyen resident saying there a need for more vehicle repair services. “I have been in the automotive industry for 20 years, and brought together some acquaintances that I thought would be excited to participate in such a venture,” he said. And while the new workshop will end Svalbard Auto’s monopoly, “it will be both competition and cooperation,” Tistel said. “We aim to strengthen the offering of service in the city.” The workshop in a former larger garage next to the fire station will also offer snowmobile and boat repairs.

Hurtigruten Svalbard: We are helping, not hurting, local tourism economy 
Accusations Hurtigruten Svalbard is hurting the local economy by sending much of its income to owners outside the archipelago are being denied by the company’s new destination director. The complaints were triggered by a notable increase in the number of festivals in Longyearbyen during the past couple of years, which is making it harder for organizers of each event to lure audiences. The organizers and other businesses say Hurtigruten Svalbard, a subsidiary of the Norwegian company best known for its ferry operations, is furthering the problem as the largest local tour company since it siphons off a large percentage of income that would remain in the local economy if received by other operators. Krisztina Uzonyi, the company’s destination director, said the company is making major upgrades to most of its hotel and other operations – thus providing local construction income – and its growth is generating more jobs in the upper-tier tourism industry rather than mass market cruise tourism. “Svalbard has the potential to be a tourist destination in the upper layer – with unique experiences for quality-conscious guests all year round,” she said. “Svalbard and mass tourism are not a good match.”