Bergakademie Professor Gives Lecture in Polar Region

A mining professor from TU Bergakademie Freiberg, Prof. Dr. Carsten Drebenstedt recently gave a lecture at the world's northernmost university. In March 2018, he was a guest at the University Center in Svalbard (UNIS) on the island of Spitsbergen off the northern coast of Norway.

IllustrationIn his guest lecture, Prof. Drebenstedt discussed Germany's “Energiewende” (energy transition) with international listeners from UNIS – including the role of coal in that transition. In particular, he explained how the experience gained in environmentally and socially responsible mining in Germany is playing an important role. “With the specialist fields of geology, geophysics and technology and how they are tailored to the Arctic region, UNIS offers interesting opportunities for cooperation with TU Bergakademie Freiberg,” said Prof. Drebenstedt. Topics such as ice mechanics or construction in permafrost areas present exciting challenges for the engineer, which complement the research competences found in Freiberg.

Illustration Prof. Drebenstedt exchanged views with both academic colleagues and mining company representatives from Norway and Russia on the opportunities and risks surrounding raw material extraction in the polar region. The town of Longyearbyen itself and the other important settlements on Spitsbergen owe their origin to the mining of hard coal, which among other things supplies local heat and electricity, but is also exported to Germany for utilization in chemical applications.

Increasing global demand for raw materials is also bringing the Arctic region more and more into focus as a source of raw materials. Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen, one of the northernmost towns in the world, is home to the University Center in Svalbard (UNIS), the northernmost institution of all Norwegian universities. In dealing with sensitive Arctic ecosystems, the development of geological resources in the Arctic region is a primary focus of UNIS.

According to the “Spitsbergen Treaty” of 1920, the Spitsbergen archipelago is under Norwegian administration. The signatory states, including Germany since 1925, have equal rights, including those rights pertaining to the exploration for and mining of raw materials.

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Contact Person: Prof. Carsten Drebenstedt, Tel +49 (0)3731 / 39 3373