Tourists who visit the Helgustaðanáma in Reyðarfjörður have not only been stealing the rare Iceland spar crystals from the mine, but also grinding them down in search for the purest pieces, reports RÚV.
Iceland spar can only be found in a few places around the world, and has become a favourite of collectors. Helgustaðanáma is one of the main sources of the crystal, and in recent years it has turned into a popular tourist spot. The mine has been left unguarded, but now it has been deemed necessary to hire a park ranger to watch over it.
Lára Björnsdóttir, a park ranger from neighbouring Fjarðarbyggð, says that each time she comes to the mine more has been broken off.
“Most people are looking for the purest stones, those are the most valuable,” Lára told RÚV. “You can see that people have been using tools for the job, I see a difference from just last week. I’ve heard from locals of people who have left the mine with backpacks full of crystals and refused to listen when they got told off.”
Lára believes that if nothing is done, all of the crystals will end up be taken and the mine ruined. But she also has a novel solution.
“Maybe we should have a Iceland spar day in Helgustaðanáma and ask people to return the stones and no hard feelings,” she said.
Lára gets it.*
*If you want to believe the Grapevine hates tourists, consult this article.