Iceland Mag

7 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag

Nature

Guard posted at unique spar mine in E. Iceland to protect it from vandals and thieves

By Staff

Hoping to stop mineral collectors from destroying a unique spar mine in E. Iceland, the local municipality will post a guard at the site this summer. Helgustaðanáma mine is one of only a few places in the world where a rare mineral called Iceland spar is found. Growing tourism threatens to destroy the value of the mine as a site of natural and historical value, as visitors remove rocks from the mine. Travellers have been stopped while filling their backpacks with spar crystals.

A unique site in danger of losing it's value
Helgustaðanáma is is one of the most important locations in the world where Iceland spar is found. Iceland spar, which is known as silfurberg (silver-rock) in Icelandic, is a rare form of crystallized calcium carbonate. In addition to Iceland it has been found at a handful of sites in China Mexico and New Mexico.

Read more: Unique spar mine in E. Iceland might have to be closed to visitors due to thefts of crystals

In recent years visitors to Helgustaðanáma have removed huge quantities of crystals from the mine, coming close to stripping it clear of crystals. The local authorities have not had the funding to post a guard at the mine at all times, which has permitted unscrupulous rock collectors and vandals to operate freely at the site. 

Read more: Can I take rocks back home from Iceland?

Last summer a guard who is charged with monitoring the mine and several other protected sites in East Iceland repeatedly witnessed visitors stealing rocks from the mine. The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service reports that the authorities hope that posting a permanent guard by the mine will stop this destruction. The other option was to close the mine to the public.

In addition to guarding the mine the guard is expected educate visitors about the historical significance and value of the site.

 

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