|Parent||Government of Russia|
Trust Arktikugol (Russian: Арктикуголь, literally: Arctic Coal) is a Russian state owned coal mining company that operates at Barentsburg on Svalbard, Norway. Though coal is still mined, it is not frequently exported, and the company is heavily subsidised by the Government of Russia. The company formerly also operated the coal mine at Pyramiden on Svalbard.
The first Soviet resolution concerning interests in coal mining in Svalbard was signed on 29 July 1920. In 1927, the predecessor of Arktikugol, Sojusljesprom, bought the closed coal mine Pyramiden from the Swedish coal company Svenska Stenkolsaktiebolaget Spetsbergen. In 1931, Sojusljesprom bought the coal mining company Russki Grumant Ltd., which owned the Grumant coal mine. At the same year Sojusljesprom proposed to establish a separate company for the coal mining in the Arctic and as a result on 7 October 1931 Arktikugol was established with its headquarters in Moscow. All rights and obligations of the Soviet Union on Svaldbard were transferred to the newly established company. This was in part to insure a Russian presence on the archipelago, since the Spitsbergen Treaty of 1920 insured that all countries to sign the treaty were given equally rights to natural resource exploitation.
In 1941, the operation of Arktikugol was stopped and workers were evacuated to Arkhangelsk in the Soviet Union due the World War II. The mining operations resumed in 1946 at mines Grumant and Barentsburg. At the same year, construction of the Pyramiden mine started. The mine was opened in 1956. In 1961, it was decided to close the Grumant mine. The mine was closed in 1962. The additional coal seam annexed to the Barentsburg mine was leased for 25 years from Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani.
In 1968, 5 MW thermal power plant was commissioned in Pyramiden and in 1974, 7.5 MW thermal power plant was commissioned in Barentsburg. The backup diesel power plant at the mine Barentsburg was put into operation in 1990.
In 1981, it was decided to have an additional exploration of Grumant field's reserves. Proven coal reserves are estimated at more than 100 million tons. There are ideas to build a new mine at Grumant; however, no concrete plans are made available yet. In 1998 the company closed the mine at Pyramiden, and settlement became a ghost town like Grumant.
In 1989, five people were killed in an explosion at the Barentsburg mine. On 18 September 1997, 23 Russian and Ukrainian miners were killed in an explosion at the Barentsburg mine. This was the most serious mining accident ever on Norwegian soil. In April 2008, two people died in the fire at the Barentsburg mine.
On 17 October 2006 Norwegian inspectors detected an underground, smoldering fire in Barentsburg, prompting fears that an open fire might break out, which would have forced the evacuation of all of Barentsburg for an indefinite period of time, and also caused unknown environmental problems for the entire archipelago.
On 29 August 1996, the Vnukovo Airlines Flight 2801 en route to the Svalbard Airport, Longyear, with Arktikugol workers and their relatives aboard crashed into the mountain Operafjellet on Spitsbergen killing all 141 people on board. On 30 March 2008, three people were killed on the Heerodden helicopter accident. In April 2009, Arktikugol was sentenced to pay a 50.000 NOK corporate penalty for helicopter flights in a protected nature area on Svalbard.
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- "Smoldering coal waste on remote Arctic islands could threaten of Russian settlement". International Herald Tribune. Associated Press. 2006-11-01. Archived from the original on 2008-02-26. Retrieved 2007-07-02.
- Berglund, Nina (2008-03-31). "Probe begins into helicopter crash on Svalbard". Aftenposten. Retrieved 2010-07-07.
- "Russia lost helicopter dispute with Norway". Barents Observer. 2009-04-21. Retrieved 2010-07-07.