This week the Norwegian contractor Veidekke started construction of a three kilometer long road to Mount Lunckefjell across the Martha glacier.
“The biggest challenge is to get all the machinery and equipment transported from Svea across the glaciers”, says Jostein Nordstrøm in Veidekke Contractors to Svalbardposten. His company has to clear tons of snow and ice away before they can start building a new road through the frozen glacial soil.
The road is expected to be ready in August, and then the actual work on digging the new mine can start.
Lunckefjell contains some 8.2 million tons of sales coal according to the mining company Store Norske. The company regards exploitation of the deposit as a natural continuation of the current mining operations in Svea Nord.
Costs connected to opening of the new mine are estimated to be some NOK 1 billion.
Norway’s current coal mine in Svea Nord will run out of resources within the next few years. The state-owned company Store Norske in September 2010 adopted a business plan for opening a new coal mine in Lunckefjell, just north of the current mine. The Norwegian Government gave green light for the plans in December 2011, after the Ministry of Environment came to the conclusion that the new coal mine can be opened without coming into contradiction with the environmental laws and regulations on Svalbard.
A dilemma for the new mine in Lunckefjell is that the mine, although underground, will slightly be in the vicinity of the Nordenskiöld Land national park.