German company EP Power Minerals’ plans to build a sand mine east of Viek could send heavy haulage trucks 24 hours a day along Iceland’s south coast every seven to eight minutes . The sand is exported to Europe and possibly North America, where it is used as an additive in cement. The company plans to ship the material from Þorlákshöfn, but the local mayor says the town does not have enough facilities for its storage and EP Power Minerals has not yet applied for land at the port. .
An environmental assessment of the proposal, released earlier this month, determined that the project’s impact on traffic and noise pollution would be “very negative.” However, impacts on birds, plants and geology in the area were assessed as ‘minor negative’.
Former landlord tried to sell to Iceland
EP Power Minerals has purchased the land on which the proposed mine will be located in 2020. about 15 km [9.3 mi] East of Vík í Mýrdal, the land stretches from the Kötlujökull glacier to the coast and consists mostly of sandy plains.
The property was put up for sale in 2016 by the previous owners, three brothers. The three brothers say they have had several unsuccessful sales to Iceland. The land was sold to EP Power Minerals through his Mýrdalssandurehf. company and three Icelanders own 10% of his shares (through Lásastígurehf. company).
7-8 minute interval tracks
The proposed mine will be located by Mount Hafursey, north of the ring road that runs through the site. The proposed mining area covers 15.5 square kilometers, with an estimated 146 million cubic meters of usable sand in the area. According to the mining plan, the area should have enough material for 100 years of mining.
EP Power Minerals will transport the sand by truck to Þorlákshöfn. The amount of material means that every 15 minutes a full truck leaves the mine and an empty truck he comes back from Þorlákshöfn at the same speed. This means that haulage trucks drive on the ring road between Vik and Hveragerdi and the road between Hveragerdi and Soorlaakshefn every 7-8 minutes 24 hours a day.
There are concerns about the impact on traffic and roads
Residents of the metropolitan area and South Iceland have expressed concern about the impact of this transport on traffic and roads in the region. His JóhannesÞór Skulason, CEO of the Icelandic Travel Industry Association, also expressed concern about the impact of the mines and associated traffic.
“There has been talk of the tourism industry in that regard, but it is recognized that one large truck, such as that transporting fish between regions, damages roads equivalent to 10,000 Yaris or small rental cars.” Johannes Sor told Vísir. He has expressed doubts about whether road infrastructure can handle so much heavy transport. He added that projects like the mine would affect the tourist experience in the area.
Environmental impacts considered negligible
An environmental assessment conducted by Efla and published earlier this month determined that many of the negative impacts of the mine are negligible. Because the sand plains in question are not habitat for endangered or protected plant species, and mines do not significantly affect nesting sites, the impact on plants and birds in the area is “minor.” considered as a minus.
Despite the fact that the mine “has a direct and permanent impact on the deposition of Mirdar Sandur”, its impact is only a “small percentage of the total strata” and, where sand is deposited, the surface is 10 meters lower. 120 meters thick. Efla’s assessment was therefore that the overall impact on the formation would be “minor negative”. The same was confirmed about the impact of mines on tourism and outdoor recreation in the area.
The project’s climate impact was deemed “pretty positive”. This is because the material produced replaces cement clinker, thus reducing the carbon emissions from concrete production by the equivalent of 800 million kg of CO2 per year (when transport emissions are taken into account). .