Mining company on Svalbard will reduce workforce

Photo: Birger Amundsen /

Svalbard’s coal mining company, Store Norske, will reduce its workforce by 90 employees, reports the Barents Observer.

Due to the financial crises the coal prizes fall from USD 175 last autumn to USD 53 at its lowest the first half year 2009, and is no around USD 70 per ton, reports Svalbardposten.

The state-owned Store Norske has offered all its employees aged 55 to 60 an early retirement incentive. The number of employees will be reduced from 400 by the end of 2007 to 310 by the end of next year.

The goal is to reduce the workforce down to 250 within 2015, Svalbardposten reports.

The Store Norske group is Norway’s sole coal producer and the most northerly operator in the world. The combine is based on Svalbard and the main operation is located in Svea, roughly 60 km from Longyearbyen.

Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani A/S was founded in November 1916. The company took over coal mining operations from the American company Arctic Coal Company led by John Munro Longyear. Store Norske has been involved in coalmining in Longyearbyen ever since.

Store Norske’s history is also the history of Longyearbyen. In addition to coalmining, the company was for many years responsible for all social services and the entire mining community. The company ran inter alia a school, a hospital and general store, and was responsible for all infrastructure. Store Norske has been an important instrument in Norway’s Svalbard policy, and the authorities have always evaluated Store Norske’s activity in a wider perspective than purely as a commercial enterprise.

During the 1990s, Store Norske gradually went over to concentrating purely on coalmining, and handed over responsibility for the social services and commercial activities to others.


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