Two mining settlements in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard have been restored to their natural state as part of one of the most extensive environmental projects in the world, an expression of Norway’s long-term and consistent dedication to preserving wilderness nature and ecosystems.
“In many ways, the clean-up of Sveagruva and Lunckefjell has been a project that has involved the entire population of Svalbard,” says Lars Fause, the head of civil affairs on Svalbard. “I am impressed by how the various companies and units have worked together. This has been one of the success factors for the project being carried out so efficiently and cost-effectively.”
The restoration project was approved in 2017 and completed this year at $226 million, $81 million under budget. All trace of human mining has been removed except for cultural monuments and buildings from before 1946 – the Saloon, the Vinboden, the Hundegården, and the old transformer tower – now dedicated to research and teaching. The rivers have returned to their original courses, and the terrain, the glaciers, and the mountainsides now appear unaffected.