Two million cubic meters (70.6 million cubic feet) of gravel and rock have been mined from the south side of Ingólfsfjall mountain, South Iceland, in accordance with a license granted in 2006, RÚV reports. The mountain now has a clearly visible mark from the removal of material, and the southern edge will be lowered around 80 meters (262 feet) before the work is done.
The mark is easily seen from Ring Road One by anyone traveling through South Iceland. At first, the material was only taken from the base of the mountain, but in 2004, the company Fossvélar began to mine material from the mountainside.
The Icelandic National Planning Agency opposed the grant of the license in April 2006, due to a significant negative, permanent and irreversible visual impact on the landscape. Fossvélar, however, were granted a ten- to fifteen-year license by the municipality of Ölfus to extract up to 2 million cubic meters of material from about 400 meters (1300 feet) up the mountainside. The edge of the mountain would thus be lowered by 80 meters, the height of the Hallgrímskirkja church tower.
Guðrún Tryggvadóttir was one of the opponents to the license, and was very disappointed when the Ruling Committee on Environment and Natural Resources ratified the municipality of Ölfus’ decision in 2006.
"So municipal councils can do anything today, destroying whole mountains without anything being done in the matter," she states.
Now more than a decade has passed since the license was granted, and the demand for gravel and sand from the mine has rarely been higher. Fossvélar spokespeople are not afraid to tear down the mountain range: "No, not really," stated Magnús. "We're not taking the mountain down, the edge is just moving inward. We're just taking down one edge. Material has to be taken from somewhere. We have all the licenses for it, and are in harmony with most people."
"I think it is just shameful. I think it’s an ugly picture and ugly sight for both tourists and residents to see this destruction on the mountain all the time, and I hope we learn from this. To not make a mistake like this again," states Guðrún.