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The last Norway’s Arctic coal mine will be closed until the 2023

OSLO, Sept 30 – Norway’s state-owned coal company will close its last mine in the Arctic Svalbard archipelago in 2023, it said on Thursday, causing the loss of 80 jobs and ending 120 years of exploitation, Reuters informs.

While Store Norske Spitsbergen Kullkompani (SNSK) has shut its major mines in the islands over the past two decades, it had kept the smaller Mine 7 open, primarily to ensure supplies to a local coal-fired power plant, as well as some exports.

The Arctic islands are warming faster than almost anywhere on Earth, highlighting the risks to fragile ecosystems from climate change, and Norway aims to cut its overall emissions, although it also remains a major oil and gas producer.

Svalbard’s main settlement will temporarily switch its energy source to diesel in 2023 before establishing a permanent renewable electricity supply, negating the need for a local coal supply, SNSK said.

“Now that the contract to supply the power plant has been terminated there will no longer be a basis for operating the mine,” Chief Executive Morten Dyrstad said in a statement.

In the meantime however, Mine 7 will increase its output to a rate of 125,000 tonnes per year from the current 90,000 tonnes, taking advantage of high global prices to boost exports for the remaining two years.

But the volumes are small compared to SNSK’s historical output of several million tonnes annually, and the local economy is now primarily geared towards tourism and scientific research.

Located around 700 km (435 miles) north of the European mainland, Svalbard is governed under a 1920 treaty giving Norway sovereignty but allowing all nations signing it to do business there and to exploit its natural resources.

Russia operates a coal mine at its Barentsburg settlement, supplying a local power plant.

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Norwegian activists protest against the new oil exploration licences in the Arctic

A group of environmental activists chained themselves in front of the Norwegian oil and energy ministry on Thursday to protest against the awarding of new oil exploration licences in the Arctic, The globe and mail informs.

Carrying banners that said “No to new oil” and “Norwegian oil is boiling the planet” three campaigners sat in chains in front of the entry to the ministry from about 0600 GMT as ministry workers arrived for work.

Norway on Wednesday awarded four exploration licences to seven oil companies, including three for the Arctic Barents Sea, although fewer oil companies applied for the permits than in previous licensing rounds.

“We’re demonstrating here today because Norway is keeping on handing out new oil licences even though we’re in the midst of a climate crisis,” said demonstrator Halvard Raavand, 30, wearing an “oil free Arctic” black face mask.

Earlier, demonstrators glued images of individuals carrying slogans such as “keep the oil in the ground” on the windows of the ministry.

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