13 How the Salt Is Mined (And Not Only Kitchen Salt!)

How the Salt Is Mined (And Not Only Kitchen Salt!)

Posted on November 19, 2009 by


When you are 1500 feet deep, there’s no wind, there’s no ambient sound, and there’s no sunlight as well (no wonder!). However, ride on the elevator doesn’t take too long – during these seconds you virtually see your whole life in front of your eyes. The open cage whooshes downwards swinging around like crazy and your guts really seem to come all the way up to your throat!
When you’re out of the cage, you arrive to a small platform, where multiple tunnels are intercrossed. These tunnels are made for so called “taxis”, small diesel-powered vehicles that can transport 2 to 12 men, depending on their designation. The mine uptake is only a drop in the sea of shafts, since there are lots of tunnels, which lead to actual mining sites. The most distant longwall (which is the name of the place of actual mining) is 17 miles away from the elevator! The “taxi” drives at speed of 20-25 mph, so it takes quite some time for some miners to get to work.

Personally for me the biggest shock completely ruining my notion regarding salt mining was the fact that salt is actually mined not at the end of the tunnel. The harvester moves back and forth along its side! So the longwall gradually shifts towards harvested side in parallel to itself. The harvester has two cutting drums. The first one is located in front of the machine and intended for cutting the upper part of the wall. The second one is in rear and cuts the lower part. So now is the most interesting part. One passing cuts off about 10 to 20 inches of the longwall. That means that several approaches increase the width of the tunnel by good ten feet! In order to keep it from collapsing hundreds of hydraulic mountings are used. Every one of them can bare very many tons of pressure. Really many tons, I mean.

Salt 2Salt 3

When the longwall’s width becomes too large, these mountings are gradually relocated towards the wall being cut. Rock layers behind the mountings simply collapse. Most of the time they collapse whenever they want, so, it can be rather dangerous. Danger lays in the fact that the collapse of a massive rock layer can create gigantic pressure. There was an accident, when a 200-pund metal table was thrown along the tunnel at distance of 250 feet. But such cases are rather rare, as the matter of fact. Regular kitchen salt, which is Sodium Chloride, is being produced on a small auxiliary enterprise. Overwhelming majority of the salt produced is Potassium Chloride, which is used mainly for fertilizers.


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13 Responses to “How the Salt Is Mined (And Not Only Kitchen Salt!)”

  1. CONNIE says:



  2. Troll-Control says:

    Will all the TROLLS please leave English Russia?

  3. DougW says:

    Cool pictures.

  4. shizo says:

    I wish they showed the hydraulic supports.

  5. DerWaldfuerst says:

    I´ve been working in such a mine during my apprenticeship in germany. But the way of getting the salt was way different. Using explosives instead of a big tunnel borer, and leaving huge pillars, a few tens of meters, instead of hydraulic supports and let the tunnel collapse after removal of the supports. Cuz collapsing means sinking of the earths surface up to huge holes as on the first pic. But with those huge pillars the earths surface is sinking as well, but not that much.

  6. Swede says:

    I think the first picture from Berezniki should be linked.

    This is also relevant http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/08/world/europe/08kremlin.html

  7. Taupey says:

    That does look dangerous!

    It looks like they’re using that wooden wedge like a keystone?

    These are great photographs! Thanks for the post!

  8. Just_Curious says:

    Where is that mine located?
    Do they have a homepage (in english)?
    Are visits possible on a regular base?

  9. Liza Cressey says:

    Hi there, I just stumbled upon your website whilst I’m browsing on the Internet as I am looking for some info on wall ovens!. It’s an interesting site so I have bookmarked this site and will return another day to give it a more indepth look when I can give it more time.

  10. Keo says:

    Uralkali,Russia,Perm Territory, Town of Berezniki

  11. Marcel says:

    nice pics..hallo from slovakia :)))))

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