Tourism agents in east Iceland are concerned about the behavior of travelers who visit the Iceland spar (silfurberg) mine Helgustadanáma in northern Reydarfjördur. Even though information signs clearly read that it is prohibited to remove crystals from the mine, there are examples of tourists who fill their backpacks with them.
Reydarfjördur. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
Helgustadanáma was declared a nature reserve in 1975. The mine contains some of the largest and clearest Iceland spar crystals in the world. After the mid-20th century it was described as glittering with crystals but mining dramatically changed its appearance, ruv.is reports.
In the past years and decades Helgustadanáma has become a tourist attraction with 5,000-10,000 people visiting it every year.
Many of them don’t hesitate to take crystals back as souvenirs, everything from tiny pieces to full backpacks, as stated by Saevar Gudjónsson at the travel agency Mjóeyri in Eskifjördur who has monitored the condition of the mine in the past year.
Gudjónsson worries that if no action is taken to stop this behavior, eventually there won’t be any Iceland spar crystals left in the mine and it will cease to be a tourist attraction.
The Environment Agency of Iceland has now placed Helgustadanáma on a red list which means that the area is under significant strain and immediate reaction is required.
Gudjónsson said one of the solutions would be to hire a ranger who watches over the mine.