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Russia reopens Arctic coal mine

Mining is the main livelihood in the Russian settlement of Barentsburg on Svalbard.

After three serious accidents, two with fatal outcome, the Trust Arktikugol is allowed to reopen its coal mine on Svalbard.

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In 2013 there were two fatal accidents in the mine. In April a Ukrainian worker died after being hit by a falling stone block. In June another worker from Ukraine was killed in a rock fall. In September a worker had to amputate a leg after an accident.

After the last accident the mine was closed and Trust Arktikugol had to pay a NOK 1.3 million (€155,400) fine for violations of the Norwegian Working Environment Act.

The Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority has decided that the mine now can start production again. It was the general lack of safety that made the authorities demand the mine to be shut, but since then the Russian company has followed orders from Norwegian authorities, and the situation is changing to the better.

“They are changing the course to get a safer working environment – that is at least the impression we have”, Johan Furebotten from the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority says to NRK. He believes that the changes that have been made, will lead to a decrease in the number of accidents in barentsburg.

The coal mine in Barentsburg was reopened in 2010 after two and a half year break following a fire in 2008, as BarentsObserver reported.