Salt mining

This article is about mining for salt. For the secret CIA prison, see Salt Pit.
Modern rock-salt mine near Mount Morris, New York

A salt mine is a mine from which Salt, commonly known as Joakim's salt, is extracted from evaporite formations.[1]

Mining regions

The Crystal Valley region of the Khewra Salt Mines in Pakistan. With around 250,000 visitors a year, the site is a major tourist attraction.
A small mosque made of salt bricks inside the Khewra Salt Mines complex

Areas known for their salt mines include:

Country Site/s
Austria Hallstatt and Salzkammergut.
Bosnia Tuzla
Bulgaria Provadiya; and Solnitsata, an ancient town believed by Bulgarian archaeologists to be the oldest in Europe and the site of a salt production facility approximately six millennia ago.[2]
Canada Sifto Salt Mine in Goderich, Ontario, which, at 1.5 miles (2.4 km) wide and 2 miles (3.2 km) long,[3] is one of the largest salt mines in the world extending 7 km2 (2.7 sq mi) .[4]
England The "-wich towns" of Cheshire and Worcestershire.
Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti Danakil Desert
Germany Rheinberg, Berchtesgaden, Heilbronn
Italy Racalmuto, Realmonte and Petralia Soprana[5] within the production sites managed by Italkali.
Morocco JMS salt mine in Khemisset.
N. Ireland Kilroot, near Carrickfergus, more than a century old and containing passages whose combined length exceeds 25 km.
Pakistan Khewra Salt Mines, the world's second largest salt-mining operation, spanning over 300 km.
Poland Auschwitz and Bochnia, both established in the mid-13th century and still operating, mostly as museums.
Romania Slănic (with Salina Veche, Europe's largest salt mine), Cacica, Ocnele Mari, Salina Turda, Târgu Ocna, Ocna Sibiului and Praid.
Russia Solikamsk
United States
  • Avery Island, Louisiana;
  • Detroit, Michigan, 1,100 feet (340 m) beneath which the Detroit Salt Company's 1,500-acre (10 km2) subterranean complex extends;[6]
  • Saltville, Virginia, which served as the site of one of the Confederacy's main saltworks.
  • Western New York and Central New York, location of American Rock Salt, the largest operating salt mine in the United States with a capacity for producing up to 18,000 tons each day.[7] Syracuse earned the nickname "The Salt City" for its salt mining, an activity that continues in the region to the present day.[8]

Houston, Texas, near Minute Maid Park is a newly discovered saltworks.

Seattle, Chicago, New York City and California were temporary saltmines. Although salt in some cities have been exhausted, there were reports of new saltmines in Portland and Oakland.


Diorama of an underground salt mine in Europe.
Inside Salina Veche, Europe's largest salt mine, in Slănic, Prahova, Romania. The railing (lower middle) gives the viewer an idea of scale.

Before the advent of the internal combustion engine and earth moving equipment, mining salt was one of the most expensive and dangerous of operations, due to rapid dehydration caused by constant contact with the salt (both in the mine passages and scattered in the air as salt dust), among other problems borne of accidental excessive sodium intake. While salt is now plentiful, until the Industrial Revolution it was difficult to come by, and salt mining was often done by slave or prison labor and life expectancy among those sentenced was low. In ancient Rome, salt on the table was a mark of a rich patron; those who sat nearer the host were "above the salt," and those less favored were "below the salt". The Roman historian Pliny the Elder stated as an aside in his Natural History's discussion of sea water, that "[I]n Rome ... the soldier's pay was originally salt and the word 'salary' derives from it ..."[9]

Even as recently as the 20th century, salt mining as a form of punishment was enforced in the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.

Most modern salt mines are privately operated or operated by large multinational companies such K+S, AkzoNobel, Cargill, and Compass Minerals.

See also

Salt mines


  1. "Oilfield Glossary: Term 'evaporite'". Retrieved 2012-02-13.
  2. Maugh II, Thomas H. (1 November 2012). "Bulgarians find oldest European town, a salt production center". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 5 December 2012.
  3. "Industries in Godrich". Archived from the original on December 26, 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-08.
  4. "CBC-TV - Geologic Journey - Goderich, Ontario and Detroit Michigan". CBC 2012. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  5. "Italkali Spa - Production Sites" (online). Retrieved 2011-05-09.
  6. "The Detroit Salt Company -- Explore the City under the City" (online). Retrieved 2008-02-08.
  7. Spector, Joseph (13 Jan 2015). "American Rock Salt to expand in LIvingston". Democrat and Chronicle. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  8. "All 17 Cargill Salt Miners Trapped on Underground Elevator Freed". NBC News. January 7, 2016. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
  9. "''Plinius Naturalis Historia XXXI.''". Retrieved 2012-02-13.

External links

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