Norway Dismantles its last Arctic Coal Mine And Will Turn It Into a Massive National Park

Norway Dismantles its last Arctic Coal Mine And Will Turn It Into a Massive National Park

As Norway dismantles its last Arctic coal mine, it will turn the area into a massive national park. 

As a result, Svalbard Archipelago, and in particular Van Mijenfjord, will once again be a wild area where polar bears, seals, and other species can flourish. Experts predict that the park will be one of the most resilient areas to climate change. Svalbard is also home to the global seed vault, where humanity is storing a backup of all the world's seeds and crops in the event of a mass extinction event. The seeds aren't the only thing famously stored underground on Svalbard. It has been mining coal for 100 years under state monopoly. 

It is home to seven national parks, 15 bird sanctuaries, one geopark, and six reserves. 3,000 polar bears inhabit the area, and during the late summer more than 20 million birds of 80 different species nest on Svalbard. The Van Mijen Fjord has sea ice year round, and is an important hunting ground for Polar bears. A June press release by the Norwegian government announced they were expanding the existing Nordenskiöld Land National Park to encompass the fjord, creating a wilderness called Van Mijenfjorden National Park. According to minister Sveinung Rotevatn, “Our goal is for Svalbard to be one of the best-managed wilderness areas in the world. That requires us to implement measures to deal with climate changes, and pressure caused by increased traffic." 

Until a few years ago, big coal vessels sailed the Van Mijen fjord to load coal from the Svea mine. Today, work is in full swing to dismantle all mining and housing infrastructure at Svea, including the large port loading facility. In total, the clean-up work after decades of coal mining is estimated to cost $87 million. Mining in Lunckefjell near Svea was halted in October 2016 and in 2019, the government decided to cease all further coal mining in the area.

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