Greenpeace blocks Arctic coal mine

Svea mine (Sveagruva) on Svalbard.

On Oct. 2, the environmental activist group Greenpeace blocked the coal mine Sveagruva on Svalbard, protesting plans for more coal production in one of the world’s northernmost regions, reports Reuters.

More than a dozen protesters stopped a conveyor belt at the Svea mine (Sveagruva) carrying coal to a ship due to sail to Portugal with 70,000 tons this past weekend. “Coal is a huge climate change factor yet Norway wants new mines in one of the most pristine regions in the world,” said protester Martin Norman.

Sveagruva used to be the third-largest settlement in the territory (after Longyearbyen and Barentsburg), with a population of about 300. Now around 310 workers live in Longyearbyen, and travel to Sveagruva for work on either daily or weekly basis. There are no permanent inhabitants living in Sveagruva. The settlement is operated by Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani and is served by the airport Svea Airport.

The town was first established in 1917 by the Swedes. The town was destroyed in 1944, but was quickly re-established after World War II. In the 1990’s the town nearly vanished, due to more productive, and accessible mines in Longyearbyen.

Today, Sveagruva holds the most productive coal mine of Svalbard, the Svea Nord longwall mine. Opened in 2001, the mine produces 4 million metric tons of coal annually, making it one of the largest underground coal mines in Europe.

Read Reuters’ story here

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