Historic Hjörleifshöfði Estate Sold to Sand Mining Companies


Hjörleifshöfði mountain and the black sand beach surrounding it have been sold to two companies, one Icelandic and one German. The companies plan to mine and sell sand from the location for use in sandblasting and cement making. The price tag of the South Iceland site has not been made public, though Vísir’s sources pin it at ISK 500 million ($3.96 million/€3.27 million) or more. The land’s previous owners say they made several unsuccessful attempts to sell the historic property to the Icelandic state.

A Historic Locale

Hjörleifshöfði is a 221-metre tall mountain located on a black sand plain, near the southernmost tip of Iceland, some 15 kilometres east of the town of Vík í Mýrdal. It was named by one of the first legendary settlers of Iceland, Hjörleifr Hróðmarsson, who settled there at the end of the ninth century, and he is said to be buried on it.

The land area bought by the two companies includes both Hjörleifshöfði and Hafursey mountains. It stretches from Kötlujökull glacier down to the sea and consists mostly of sand plains. The Ring Road, or Route 1, passes through the land.

Sandblasting and Concrete

Jóhann Vignir Hróbjartsson, Páll Tómasson, and Victor Berg Guðmundsson are the purchasers of the land, which measures over 11,000 hectares, through their company Mýrdalssandur ehf. alongside German company STEAG Power Minerals. The new owners plan to mine and sell sand from the location, an idea they have researched and developed since as early as 2008. The raw materials will be used in concrete and sandblasting and will mostly be exported for sale.

The companies plan to set up two sand mines on the land to begin with, though possibly more in the future. They have already made agreements with other landowners in the area regarding processing of the raw materials. Jóhann, Páll, and Victor state that environmental considerations are paramount to the company, which also plans to develop tourism at the location to attract local and foreign tourists.

Government Showed Little Interest

The Hjörleifshöfði estate previously belonged to three siblings: Þórir Kjartansson, Áslaug Kjartansdóttir, and Halla Kjartansdóttir. It was listed for sale around four years ago. Þórir told Vísir that the siblings made several unsuccessful attempts to sell the land to the Icelandic state. He says neither the previous government nor the current one showed much interest in the historic land. “I tried for a long time to get a meeting with [Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir] through her secretary to discuss the issue but without success. Then I decided to send her a personal letter, which I knew she would receive, where I included all the main information about the land along with pictures and more and asked her to contact me either by phone or email.” Þórir never received a response.