MOSCOW, April 6. /TASS/. The Arktikugol (Arctic coal) Trust Company will develop the international scientific station on the Spitsbergen Archipelago, including with BRICS counterparts, Minister for Development of the Far East and Arctic Alexey Chekunov posted on Telegram on Wednesday.
A year earlier, the Russian government ordered the ministry to undertake management of the company, which since 1931 had been providing Russia's presence on Spitsbergen.
"The trust company's future would be to slow down systematically the coal production, to develop tourism (our towns are the planet's northernmost settlements), to develop the international Arctic scientific station, including with BRICS counterparts," the minister wrote.
Russia will also develop a museum complex and will preserve the "unique Soviet-Arctic heritage of the trust company." Earlier, the minister said coal was not Spitsbergen's future.
"For decades, the company [Arktikugol] has been suffering losses, with the worn-out infrastructures, with personnel mainly from Ukraine. It has been producing low-quality coal, and now the company is caught in transport, financial and commercial blockades. No one was allowed, no coal was bought, Western tourists announced a boycott. We have changed the management team, <...> have allocated funds from the federal budget to upgrade infrastructures in Barentsburg and Pyramida, have attracted large Russian businesses to consume Spitsbergen's coal," the minister added.
Arktikugol owns on Spitsbergen an area of 251 sq. km. The archipelago is attractive for tourists.