Svalbard Gruve 2B

Picture 1

Clinging onto the stonewall of the steep valley, Gruve 2B, or Mine 2B, overlooks the city of Longyearbyen from its east flank. When minors built the mine, it was the biggest of the city. But it was also the most dangerous one. The four buildings that compose the mine are connected by perilous dark staircases and outdoor corridors without handrails. The wooden wired construction carries the load of the ropeway’s big engine and that is why it bends with age.


Picture 2


The ground of the valley has a shallow layer of sedimentary stone. A very soft one. The mine sways when the permanently frosted ground below doesn’t want to deal with it. It sways so much that some shear wooden sticks actually unnail. Mine 2B often leans over the void, waiting for minors to fix it with the missing piece.


As time went on the mining activity stopped. Some locals say that a big man with red clothes lives there, since it was always empty. I climbed there to check. Now I can assure you that it’s no place to live. It looks like a ghastly movie set from the 70’s. It is completely dark inside. Only few light beams shine through the floor. Wooden walls transformed into ice, metal objects rusted, dust accumulated.


From the main hallway, where the trolley’s rails pass, several doors lead to specific rooms, which are occasionally slanting as the building falls into ruins. The darkness ends while opening the last door on the rails’ path. The feeling of fear mixed with fascination that one experiences when facing the wild glaciers can be relived here. This explains why a lot of recent human traces appear inside the mine. Mine 2B is in Longyearbyen a place for teenagers to hide and scare themselves, and for some tourists to create adrenalin.


The fate of this mine is sad. It is registered as a cultural heritage building of Svalbard. This means that you are not allowed to touch it. Even if planks are dismantling slowly, you can’t fix it. Longyearbyen will watch it fall soon too. And once it has fallen, the pieces of the building will still be untouchable, because it will still be considered as a cultural heritage.