Tuesday, September 20, 2016
On average, more than 250 million tons of salt are produced worldwide every year. China and the United States are the top producers at 48 million and 46 million tons respectively in 2006. There are three main ways to produce salt: deep-shaft mining, solution mining, and solar evaporation.
Mining allows for access to ancient oceans, now dried up and buried, that have become concentrated salt sedimentary layers sometimes as thick as 50 feet. Deep-shaft mining is the process of removing solid rock salt.
Deep-shaft mining is similar to mining for any other mineral. Many salt mines use the "room and pillar" system of mining. Shafts are sunk down to the floor of the mine, and rooms are carefully constructed by drilling, cutting, and blasting between the shafts, creating a checkerboard pattern. After the salt is removed and crushed, a conveyor belt hauls it to the surface. Most salt produced this way is used as rock salt.
Water is pumped underground to dissolve solid salt during the process of solution mining. The salty brine is then pumped out of the ground and dehydrated to produce crystalized salt.
Pre-industrial salt mining was difficult, expensive, and dangerous. Before the invention of the internal combustion engine and earth moving equipment, salt had to be moved by hand, causing workers to experience rapid dehydration due to the constant contact with the salt both in the mine passages and scattered in the air as salt dust, among other problems related to accidental excessive sodium intake.
In most developed nations today, salt is so commonplace that we take it for granted. But before the Industrial Revolution it was extremely difficult to come by, and was a seasoning reserved for the wealthy. In fact, in ancient Rome, salt on a dinner table was a sign of wealth. If you were seated near the host (and the salt) you were “above the salt” or a highly valued guest, and if you were further from the host and his salt, you were “below the salt,” clearly less important.
When you need electrical power distribution equipment, controls, and light fixtures for mobile and stationary equipment for your mining operation, give us a call. Our products are designed for both surface and underground mining, and for installations in the coal, salt, precious metals, potash, trona, other metal/non-metal mining industries.
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