Back To The Source
14th August 2018
Many of our customers ask us about the salt we use and where it comes from. The specification of this salt is becoming increasingly important to meet contract criteria; so we decided to go back to the source of our salt and take some customers with us.
The salt seam which supplies us runs from Carrickfergus, Ireland all the way to Winsford which is where we started our journey. From there we were given all the appropriate safety gear and taken down a lift to the current active mine- 300m down!
Down in the mine there are approximately 160 miles of roadways across various levels, covering a grand total of 12 square miles. Due to the grid style method used while mining the entire structure of the mine is self-supporting; when a room/area is mined an equivalent sized pillar is left to support the weight, this leaves large open caverns used to store various old equipment.
It is estimated that salt in the seam being mined is around 220 million years old- that’s pre-dinosaurs! The seam was formed back when all the continents were fewer, larger land masses covered with inland seas during a hotter climate. The hot temperatures evaporated the water leaving behind salt crystals which then got buried and compressed over time as the islands split and ocean spread- hence why the same seam runs across to Ireland.
Once the salt has been mined it is up to the Komatsu to use it’s giant bucket to scoop 25 tonnes at a time and move the salt to a designated store pile. There are various salt piles across the site, both outside and in the mine. There’s even a room called the “1000 tonne store” – let me tell you, that’s a lot of salt!
Our customers thoroughly enjoyed the visit and even took some memories back with them- couple of pieces of freshly mined salt and even a salt stalagmite! Now they know the full process of gritting; from the mine to being spread on their site.