The SNSK idea about using the sales of new coal from Svea to foot parts of the bill for cleaning up after decades of Svalbard coalmining has come to an abrupt halt. Svea and Lunckefjell mines are shut for good. (Photo: Bjørtvedt/Wikimedia Commons)
The SNSK idea about using the sales of new coal from Svea to foot parts of the bill for cleaning up after decades of Svalbard coalmining has come to an abrupt halt. Svea and Lunckefjell mines are shut for good. (Photo: Bjørtvedt/Wikimedia Commons)

Full Stop for New Svalbard Coal


SNSK, the Svalbard coalmining company, will not include potential Svea coal sales in its calculations for cleaning up after mining activities on Svalbard.

SNSK discards the idea of selling new coal from the Svea mine to partially cover the expenses for cleaning up after decades of coalmining on Svalbard. 

Discussions with the Ministry

This became clear following discussions among the Board of Directors of SNSK as well as discussions between the SNSK management and the company’s owner; the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries.

Managing Director Jan Morten Ertsaas of SNSK confirms the news to High North News.

Ertsaas and State Secretary Magnus Thue of the Trade Ministry both deny that the Ministry has rejected this option. In an email to HNN, State Secretary Thue writes:

The company’s own decision

– I can refute that there ever was a message from the Ministry denying the company the opportunity to make calculations as to the potential profitability of coal sales in order to partially fund the cleanup process. The board of SNSK, like any other board, is free to present any proposals it wants to the company’s owner.

Jan Morten Ertsaas also confirms that this is a decision made solely by the company itself.

– We have not come so far as to propose extracting new coal to our owner. We have discussed with the Board, and we have looked into various options for completing the task assigned to us by Stortinget (the parliament) – which is to clean up. That is what we are focusing on now.

Not mature enough

We have also looked into whether there would be an opportunity for partial funding through selling coal, however, we concluded that there is not. We do not have mature enough projects and it would require a rather significant level of investment if we were to extract coal again, Ertsaas says.

He admits it could be fun and also useful, given the desire to keep competences with the company for the future, however, time is also working against this idea.

Employees will be informed

– It would be too demanding, the upside would be too small and it would most likely also require a new decision in the parliament, says Jan Morten Ertsaas of SNSK.

The SNSK administration will soon inform employees about the decision and the background for it, in order to put to rest any expectations that may have arisen based on the recent High North News interview with State Secretary Daniel Bjarmann-Simonsen and later with Managing Director Ertsaas





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