This article was provided by the Ontario Mining Association (OMA), an organization that was established in 1920 to represent the mining industry of the province.
The world’s largest underground salt mine has been discovered by Canada’s largest daily circulation newspaper. The Toronto Star’s edition on Saturday, August 16, 2014 featured the Sifto Salt mine in Goderich with a two-page spread starting on the front of the Weekend Life section. Sifto Salt is a member of the Ontario Mining Association.
Toronto Star reporter and restaurant critic – who better equipped to write about salt? — Amy Pataki, traveled to the shores of Lake Huron at the mouth of the Maitland River and visited the mine, which is owned by Compass Minerals. Photographer Richard Lautens accompanied her on her recent underground expedition.
The mine has been operating since 1959 and it produces 6.3 million tonnes of salt annually. Most of the output from the 600-plus employees at Sifto is rock salt used for road safety. However, the company’s nearby evaporator plant turns out about 95,000 tonnes of food grade salt annually. This high-purity product is used as table salt – yes you do shake it on your fries – salt licks for farm animals and in water softeners.
Congratulations to Sifto for this extensive article and photography display and to the Toronto Star for reminding us that we cannot live without this valuable commodity. The article “A day in the world’s largest salt mine” does show that the reporter gained a true flavour of the operation. The sub-headline “We follow the mineral’s long haul from tunnels underneath Lake Huron to our dinner tables and driveways” provides a road map for the route the article follows.
The story tells us the mine is more than 500 metres below surface and its workings stretch up to seven kilometres underneath Lake Huron. The near flat 30-metre thick seams of salt are harvested by modern mining engineering techniques and high-tech equipment.
The rock salt destined for roads and highways around the Great Lakes is transported by railway, trucks and ships. “The mine produces 23,000 tonnes of salt a day,” says the Toronto Star. “About 80 per cent is destined for highways, gleaming pyramids to be loaded onto trucks, rail cars or ships that berth beside the storage domes.”
The other major salt producer in Ontario is Windsor Salt located in the city of the same name. The value of salt production in Ontario is in the range of $500 million annually. In Goderich, Sifto Salt has helped enhance the port facilities and other infrastructure in the community and surrounding area. As a major employer in the region, the mine supports numerous companies providing supplies and services to the salt producing operation and to its workers.
The Sifto Salt mine has been featured in – and has provided a backdrop for — many entries in the OMA’s high school video competition So You Think You Know Mining over the years. Teachers in Goderich and Huron Country have encouraged their students to seek SYTYKM “scholarships.” Staff at the mine and evaporator plant have been interviewed by teenage filmmakers for their productions.
No one can live without salt and Ms Pataki reminds us “a pinch makes food taste better. And a few handfuls on the walkway make winter less treacherous.”