Sveagruva or just Svea is located in the inner part of Van Mijenfjorden, about 60 km southeast of Longyearbyen. The resort was founded by the Swedish company Aktiebolaget Spetsbergens Svenska Kolfält in 1917.

Sveagruva 1982. Photo Astor Ernstsen

Midsummer celebration in Svea 1920. Photo Helmer Johanson

Coal production continued until 1925 when the mine was closed. A new Swedish company started it again in 1928. In 1934 Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani bought Sveagruva for 1 million NKr. It was done research and entry work in the years leading up to World War 2. In August 1944, the settlement was shot in fire from a German submarine. The rebuilding started immediately after the war, but it was bad prices, so the operation was suspended again already in 1949, and there was no mining activity until 1970, when it was started researching and eventually production in Svea East. 17 years later it was again decommissioned, and in some years up to 1997 there was only a guard of 12-15 men who lived in Svea.

A new mine was opened. Svea Nord is contained in the very coal-rich Central Field and was opened for permanent operation by Parliament in December 2001. The company ran good profits in the period to 2005, when a fire in the mine led to an outage which lasted for 8 months. In 2011 started preparations for a new mine in Lunckefjell, a few kilometers northeast of Svea. The mine came, however, never in normal operation, and was closed in 2015 because of low coal prices. It is still uncertain whether it becomes operational again.
The settlement has changed through the various operating periods, from work camp in the beginning, through family community with school and infirmary after the war to today’s commuter communities where employees commute either to Longyearbyen or the mainland. Svea has an airport with daily flights to Longyearbyen.

By Herdis Lien