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Tom Egil Jensen/Scanpix ©
Photo: Tom Egil Jensen/Scanpix

Svea Nord

SNSG’s principal operations are in the Svea Nord mine, which is about 60 kilometers south of Longyearbyen. Most of the company’s employees work in Svea. Svea Nord has been in normal commercial operation since 2002 and accounts for most of the company’s production. Annual production in 2012 was about 1.2 million tons of coal.

The coal seam in Svea Nord is up to five metres thick and is extracted with Longwall equipment. This involves extracting the coal using a cutting machine that moves along coal panels that are 250 metres wide and up to 3.5 kilometers long. The miners follow the production beneath hydraulically powered supports that temporarily hold up the roof while coal is extracted. Behind the supports the roof is allowed to collapse in controlled goaf falls as the coal is extracted. The coal is transported on conveyor belts out of the mountain in Svea and from there by truck to large coal storage areas in the port at Kapp Amsterdam.

There is no road connection between Longyearbyen and Svea. All transport of personnel is done by plane. This has given rise to the creation of an extensive infrastructure, including canteen, accommodation units, airfield, roads, water supply, power plant and port facilities at Svea.

There have been mining operations at Svea since 1917, when the Swedish company AB Spetsbergens Svenska Kolfält established the Svea mine at the innermost end of the Van Mijen fjord. Store Norske bought Svea from the Swedes in 1932, since when there has been mining at Svea at irregular intervals, with only a guard force present during some periods. The Svea Vest mine was depleted and closed in 2000.

In the summer of 2005, there was a fire in the Svea Nord mine. The work of extinguishing the fire and preparing for a new start-up of mining operations took over eight months. No-one was injured in the fire.