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B&WEuropeStoryThe Northernmost coal mines in the world by Anna Filipova

Svalbard is cold, dark and isolated island. Norway and Russia are the only two nations with settlements there. It was the coal mining that established communities in Svalbard during the 1920s and nowadays still remains the main industry.

Svalbard is cold, dark and isolated island. Norway and Russia are the only two nations with settlements there. It was the coal mining that established communities in Svalbard during the 1920s and nowadays still remains the main industry.

The mines in Svalbard archipelago, situated just under the North Pole are the northernmost in the world. Its location means that the mines operators have to deal with some unusual weather conditions; the summer months give 24 hour daylight, whilst the winter – are in total darkness and temperatures can plummet to -40°C. Currently there are two mining companies that operates in Svalbard (a Norwegian and a Russian one). Until recently, all settlements in Spitsbergen were company towns, but this is starting to change in the Norwegian part, where can be seen the normalisation of the society. The two Russian outposts, are still run as a private company towns by the Russian mine. This means virtually that the entire population is employed by the mine. In many ways the company controls their populations (who lives there, what work they do, what goods they can purchase). One could say, it is a place trapped in the past, not much has changed there since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Being a community traditionally based on mining, Svalbard is still a male dominated society. Nowadays most of Svalbard residents are transient, and only very few have local ties going back. After all Svalbard is more or less a workplace. [Official Website]

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One comment

  • Avatar
    Jonathan Pozniak

    Apr 29, 2014 at 14:55

    I was in Svalbard exactly one week ago, and this project is a stellar view into a world most visitors would never see!

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