The Norwegian minister confirmed there is contact with the property owner with respect to the acquisition of Austre Adventfjord and the state is still looking at whether it can be done. "There is nothing new in the matter and we have not come to any conclusion," Mæland said. "But we have a clear desire to take it over."
She said it will be up to the state to approve any sale of the 217-square-kilometer property across the channel from Longyearbyen, so there is very little chance that it will fall into foreign hands.
"The state waived a mortgaged encumbrance on the property in the late 1930s, which meant that some debt was erased that the company had to the state," Mæland said. "In this connection some limitations were set, including making sure it will be up to the state to approve any sale of the property."
Would she approve the sale to a foreign buyer?
"It's naturally a little to be expected that when the government wants to purchase something that we will not easily approve a sale to another," she said.