Halite : NaCl

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minID: UWL-2LX

Halite : NaCl

This image is copyrighted. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

A 20 cm specimen of pure halite from the largest salt mine in the World, the Goderich Mine in Canada.

The mine consists of two separate plants.

One is an almost 2000 feet deep rock salt mine, which extends 5 square miles under the Lake Huron and produces over 7 million tons of highway deicing salt annually. Today's "room and pillar" mining begins with a shaft sunk through the overlaying rock to the salt deposit. The salt is removed leaving large square caverns alternating with pillars of salt which serve as support for the rock and earth above. The size of the rooms and pillars is determined by the depth and thickness of the deposit. Blasting breaks the salt into manageable pieces which are conveyed to crushers. After crushing, the salt is screened to various sizes. Purity depends upon the type of salt deposit, but is usually between 92% and 98%.

The other is an evaporator plant that extract brine and uses it to produce a variety of products for industrial, agriculture and other commercial use.

Ontario salt deposits are found on the edge of a saucer-shaped geological structure known as the Michigan Basin that underlies much of southwestern Ontario. There are salt formations at depths of 275 metres and 825 metres and the beds are from 90 to over 200 metres thick. These beds are relatively flat and undisturbed.

The specimen is exhibited at the Norwegian Forest Museum in Elverum, Norway.

This photo has been shown 2804 times
Photo added:14th Feb 2011
Dimensions:900x641px (0.58 megapixels)
Date/Time of Photo:10th Feb 2011 14:44:31
Camera:NIKON D700
Software:Adobe Photoshop CS5 Windows
Exposure time:1/200s
Focal Length:60mm
Focal Length (35mm film equivalent):60mm
ISO speed:200
View OT. Ljøstad's Photos View Halite Gallery

Discuss this Photo

PhotosHalite - Sifto Salt Mine, Unity, Saskatchewan, Canada

14th Feb 2011 19:11 UTCDavid Bernstein Expert

Hi Folks,

This is a beautiful photo but the text really caught my eye. I read it to state that the mine was 17,750 feet deep. That seemed a tad deep for a salt mine and I began to wonder how a human being could even go underground to that depth. In looking up the mine, I found that the mine is 1,800 feet deep which makes more sense. Perhaps this should be corrected?


15th Feb 2011 00:29 UTCReiner Mielke Expert

Not only that but Lake Huron is in Ontario and Sifto Salt has a mine in Godrich on the shore of Lake Huron so the locality is wrong as well.

15th Feb 2011 02:24 UTCAndrew Johns

Another mistake is that it extends 3.2km under Lake Huron not, into Lake Huron..

17th Feb 2011 07:59 UTCOT. Ljøstad Expert

The name of the mine is clearly wrong! The halite specimen comes from what the owner of the mine, Sifto Canada Corp, calls the Goderich mine at Goderich. This mine (the biggest salt mine in the World) is not mentioned as a Mindat locality! So the correct locality might be: The Goderich mine, Goderich, Huron Co., Ontario Province, Canada. Maybe someone with a better knowledge on Canadian localities than I have can register this locality on Mindat? Then I can correct the locality for the photo.

I got the mine information from Sifto Canada Corp. See the enclosed photo.

I think that the depth of the mine is correct since this information comes from the owner of the mine .

17th Feb 2011 08:13 UTCBranko Rieck Expert

„I think that the depth of the mine is correct since this information comes from the owner of the mine.”

Now let us have a quick reality check:

The geothermal gradient is about 25-30K/km. At a depth of 17.750 foot, which is about 5.5km, the ambient temperature would be about 140°C (about 280 F). It is hard to believe that anybody would be able to work under these conditions, or that the cooling of the mine to temperatures that support human activity (under lawful conditions) would be feasible from a purely financial point of view.


17th Feb 2011 08:27 UTCOT. Ljøstad Expert

I have no problems to see the problem with the depth of the mine. I will send an email to Sifto Canada.

17th Feb 2011 12:51 UTCPaul Brandes Manager

One thing to keep in mind is that sometimes "depth" does not always mean straight down. One example I can think of is the Quincy Mine in Hancock, Michigan. The No. 2 shaft is claimed to be 9,260 ft. but this is on an average 55 degree incline; the vertical depth is actually a little over 6,000 ft. Another example are the Wabana Mines on Bell Island, Newfoundland where the "miners were working more than 4.8 km (3 mi) under the floor of Conception Bay."; however, this number is from the portal to the back of the mine, which extends out horizontally on an approximate 10 degree dip under the bay, not vertical. As of 2008, the deepest mine in the world is the TauTona in South Africa at 3,900 meters (12,795 ft.).

I can safely say Goderich is nowhere near 17,750 ft. deep!! I believe the depth when I was there in 2001 was about 1,700 ft deep on the vertical, but I could see where the total length of the levels and passageways could be 17,000 ft. or about 5.2 km. Wikipedia also claims that the mine extends 5 km under Lake Huron.

FYI: Sifto Canada also owns and operates a mechanical evaporation plant in Unity, Saskatchewan, so I guess halite could be possible from Unity as well.

17th Feb 2011 13:04 UTCBranko Rieck Expert


thanks for pointing this out. As you can see on the little flag in my post I come from Austria and my native tongue is German. My translation of “depth” was meant to be straight down, but maybe that is not what it really is.



17th Feb 2011 14:10 UTCGord Howe

I visited the Unity site waaay back in the mid seventies and it seems to me they were injecting superheated water into the ground, pumping it back out and evaporating the brine. There was no mention of underground workings but they easily could've gone that route since. I still have a couple samples my kids used to love to lick. For all you die hards, is Halite produced this way still considered a mineral?


17th Feb 2011 16:33 UTCDavid Von Bargen Manager

"is Halite produced this way still considered a mineral? " Nope, it's just salt.

I believe they are still only using solution mining to produce salt.

17th Feb 2011 17:33 UTCJolyon Ralph Founder

Maybe we should just replace the Saskatchewan locality with the Ontario one.

17th Feb 2011 23:58 UTCBob Southern

I believe Canadas deepest mine is the Creighton Mine in Sudbury Ontario.

Working depth is like 7840 vertical feet. The Creighton #9 Shaft has a vertical

depth of 7137 feet. You can be guaranteed that the Sifto Salt Mine in Goderich

Ontario is not 17,750 feet vertical !

18th Feb 2011 00:07 UTCReiner Mielke Expert

It is possible that they are solution mining in Saskatchewan at that depth.

18th Feb 2011 01:45 UTCJolyon Ralph Founder

What's more likely is a simple mistake of 17750 for 1750.

18th Feb 2011 04:15 UTCStephanie Martin

Since we are on the topic of halite from Saskatchewan, I've always been curious if anyone could offer more precise locality information for this one:




18th Feb 2011 11:04 UTCOT. Ljøstad Expert

Yes, 1750 feet are probably more correct.

Sifto has two mines in Saskatchewan, so this locality must not be deleted. Se the attached photo of a map issued by the Salt Institute. I have also included a part of the map showing salt mines in the Michigan area.

On the letter head of the letter I got from Compass Minerals, the owner of the Sifto Canada Corp. salt mines, they call the mine where my Lake Huron specimen comes from the Goderich Mine. So I think that the correct name of the mine owned by Sifto near Lake Huron should be the Goderich mine and not Sifto Salt Mine.

28th Mar 2011 23:20 UTCRoconn

1,750 is the working level of the mine 1,800 is the depth to the bottom of the shaft. I stumbled across this blog in search of something else..............Employee of the Sifto Salt Mine Goderich Ont.Canada for 10 yrs.

29th Apr 2011 14:51 UTCMike R

Hey I'm a miner there and when I get off the cage the computer beside the door says 1,852 feet below surface. The tunnels range from 14 feet high to 80 feet high 60 feet wide. Don't get too worked up over the place it's has the worst rep going in the mining industry. Believe me you would never want to go down there, I'm looking for another job and I think half the mine is. They treat their workers terrible just look up their lay off record lately. I mean the real one not the one they release to the news. Record highs mean record lay offs. They had one of their best winters ever this year 2010/2011 and somehow 24 guys are still off saying there is no work. Believe me I'm down there and there is alot of work. Oh yeah they laid off 15 guys for 364 days called them back for three weeks laid them off again and now are telling them they have no idea when they are coming back. Safety is another thing there yeah they don't deal with restricted areas anymore they just put it off as long as they can. The equipment is junk but we still try to give them tonnage oh and one last thing half of management has quit in the last year..... Tells you something about how things are run.

29th Apr 2011 23:13 UTCRock Currier Expert

A real taste of reality from a guy with feet on the ground!

19th Apr 2016 20:33 UTCAl

The Unity Salt Plant uses solution mining. There is no mine shaft. Water or very weak brine is pumped down a well and returned up a second well saturated to 40 gpL of salt. The solution is then processed in evaporators and dryers before becoming the crystal you know as salt.
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