A video of our trip to an abandoned Soviet Russian coal mine at Grumant and the associated port and settlement at Coles Bay on Spitsbergen in the Arctic. The settlement was established in 1912, deserted for a short time during the second world war and finally abandoned in 1962. Despite being a functioning coal mine it is also believed that Coles Bay had military or research significance during the cold war. You can see on the video the typical cold war style floodlights and antenna masts, and when leaving the bay the Russian’s totally destroyed the ‘power station’ building. It reached its peak population of 1106 in 1951/52. The port and settlement at Coles Bay was linked to the mine at Grumant by a railway, but we suspect this route has been impassible for some time so the video shows our approach to Grumant by traversing the mountain behind and descending to the coastline and mine from the lowest accessible point in the valley. Its isolated coastal location has seen the buildings at Grumant deteriorate much more quickly than those at Coles Bay, which have been subject to sporadic maintenance since, possibly as late as 1980’s.
At Coles Bay some of the original buildings have been well preserved and are still standing, including one built by Russian geologist Vladimir Rusanov in 1912. The core samples shed and drilling platform are also in very good condition and can be seen on the video and in our Arctic Photo Gallery Post. There is now only one Russian mine operating on the whole of Spitsbergen, and two other permanent settlements.