In 2017, it was decided to close the Svea and Lunckefjell coal mines in Svalbard after 100 years of operation.
Ancient mining communities have been returned to nature. All traces of human activity are removed, with the exception of a few cultural heritage sites prior to 1946, which are automatically protected under the Svalbard Environmental Law.
The same law stipulates that all traces of human activity built after 1946 must, upon closure, be removed and the area returned to its natural appearance.
This means, among other things, the removal of industrial facilities, housing, office buildings, port facilities, airports and other infrastructure. It also means that masses must be deposited so that the ice surface and the mountain side do not contain traces of human activity.
Document the story
Now the liquidation process is drawing to a close and there are hardly any memories left of the once active mining community. Store Norske plans to complete the cleanup and return of the area by fall 2023.
However, before the massive liquidation project began, a group from the Norwegian Cultural Heritage Research Institute (NIKU) traveled to Svea to ensure that the historic mines are not completely lost.
The task force worked five intensive weeks in Svalbard during the summer of 2019 to digitally document the mines before the stripping process began.
The result is a virtual 3D reconstruction of Svea that will be made available to the public. A digital preservation of 100 years of industrial history.