The China Yilite-Mornring Arctic Scientific Expedition and Research Team recently visited a coal mine situated south of Longyearbyen, capital city of the Svalbard Islands.
Team members drove to the coal mine, after changing into yellow safety suits and helmets, equipped with oxygen masks, on a road across ridges of snow mountains.
The road, built on a glacier, subsides some one meter every year and demands continuous supervision and maintenance so as to maintain safety for traffic.
Actually, team members were very surprised that they could drive into the coal mine, which started operation some two years ago, instead of taking a vertical elevator.
As the two vans entered the ten-meter wide lane, the light dimmed and helmet lamps were switched on. All the electricity and heat supply pipelines were bundled and fastened on the upper part of the lane. Road forks loomed ahead, leading to unknown places.
After driving downward for some 20 minutes, the visiting Chinese team reached the mining site well below ground.
They were told the coal is very loose and of superb quality. A geologist team member said that the coal might be formed some 70 million years ago at 60 degrees north latitude, where forests flourished in a warm climate. Later geological actions moved the coal to the North Pole.
The fact that automobiles can drive in the coal mine indicates a stable stratum.
There are only 150 workers in the coal mine with an annual coal output of 15,000 tons and yearly profits of some 10 million Norwegian Krone.
All the coal is be transported to Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Statistics show that identified coal reserves in the North Pole area total some 1,600 billion tons.
(People's Daily Novermber 2, 2001)