Iceland’s New Gold Rush - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Iceland’s New Gold Rush

Iceland’s New Gold Rush

Published March 24, 2017

Photos by
Varvara Lozenko/Submitted

An Icelandic company, with financing from a Canadian company, hopes to mine for gold all over Iceland. One elected official is nonetheless worried about the environmental impact this plan could have.

Kristín Ólafsdóttir is the CEO of Iceland Resources, a company that has marked nine locations around Iceland for exploration of possible gold deposits. One area in particular, Þormóðsdalur in Mosfellsbær, shows the most promise. In fact, Þormóðsdalur was the site of an actual gold mine, run by poet Einar Benediktsson from 1908 to 1925.

“We haven’t actually been able to figure out the size of the resource yet, that’s the reason we’re planning a drill programme, and trying to get it finalised through a planning permit through Mosfellsbær, in cooperation with them,” Kristín told us, adding that her company hopes to begin exploration this summer.

Cooperation from Mosfellsbær may be difficult, to say the least. Grapevine contacted Mosfellsbær town councilperson and Planning Committee vice chair Bjarki Bjarnason for his take on the idea. Bjarki told us that his committee has twice rejected the application for exploratory drilling in Þormóðsdalur as it was at odds with the general planning policy of Mosfellsbær.

“Town council confirmed this opinion on both occasions so it is not likely this permit will be granted,” he told us. “Personally, I am against gold exploration in Þormóðsdalur, both because it doesn’t fit with our planning policy, and also because of the environmental impact it brings with it.”

However, Mark Billings, the CEO of St-Georges Platinum and Base Metals Ltd., a Canadian company which owns a 60% stake in Iceland Resources, insists his company practices “eco-mining.” He also described the difficulties with local authorities as “par for the course,” adding that it reminded him of “negotiations St-Georges had on other projects with Canadian First Nation tribal councils.”

All this said, whether or not even gold exploration will take place this summer—especially given the absolute statements of Mosfellsbær’s vice chair of planning—still remains uncertain.

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