Khewra Salt Mine

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Khewra Salt Mine
Khewra Salt Mine - Crystal Deposits on the mine walls.jpg
Khewra Salt Mine tunnel (Crystal Valley)
Location
Khewra Salt Mine is located in Pakistan
Khewra Salt Mine
Khewra Salt Mine
LocationKhewra
ProvincePunjab
CountryPakistan
Coordinates32°38′52.58″N 73°00′30.22″E / 32.6479389°N 73.0083944°E / 32.6479389; 73.0083944Coordinates: 32°38′52.58″N 73°00′30.22″E / 32.6479389°N 73.0083944°E / 32.6479389; 73.0083944
Production
Productsrock salt, brine
History
Opened1872 (1872)
Active140 years
Owner
CompanyPakistan Mineral Development Corporation
WebsiteKhewra Salt Mines
 
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Khewra Salt Mine
Khewra Salt Mine - Crystal Deposits on the mine walls.jpg
Khewra Salt Mine tunnel (Crystal Valley)
Location
Khewra Salt Mine is located in Pakistan
Khewra Salt Mine
Khewra Salt Mine
LocationKhewra
ProvincePunjab
CountryPakistan
Coordinates32°38′52.58″N 73°00′30.22″E / 32.6479389°N 73.0083944°E / 32.6479389; 73.0083944Coordinates: 32°38′52.58″N 73°00′30.22″E / 32.6479389°N 73.0083944°E / 32.6479389; 73.0083944
Production
Productsrock salt, brine
History
Opened1872 (1872)
Active140 years
Owner
CompanyPakistan Mineral Development Corporation
WebsiteKhewra Salt Mines

The Khewra Salt Mine (or Mayo Salt Mine) is located in Khewra, north of Pind Dadan Khan,[1] an administrative subdivision of Jhelum District, Punjab, Pakistan. It is Pakistan's largest and oldest salt mine[2] and the world's second largest.[3][4][5] It is a major tourist attraction, drawing up to 250,000 visitors a year.[6][7] Its history dates back to its discovery by Alexander's troops in 320 BC, but it started trading in the Mughal era.[8] The main tunnel at ground level was developed by Dr. H. Warth, a mining engineer, in 1872 during British rule. After independence, the Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation took over the mine, which still remains the largest source of salt in the country, producing more than 350,000 tons per annum[9] of about 99% pure halite.[6] Estimates of the reserves of salt in the mine vary from 82 million tons[10] to 600 million tons.[11]

History[edit]

The Khewra Salt Mine is also known as Mayo Salt Mine, in honour of Lord Mayo, who visited it as Viceroy of India.[12] The mine is a part of a salt range that originated about 800 million years ago, when evaporation of a shallow sea followed by geological movement formed a salt range that stretched for about 300 kilometers (185 miles).[8][13] The salt reserves at Khewra were discovered when Alexander the Great crossed the Jhelum and Mianwali region during his Indian campaign. The mine was discovered, however, not by Alexander, nor by his allies, but by his army's horses, when they were found licking the stones.[14] Ailing horses of his army also recovered after licking the rock salt stones.[15] During the Mughal era the salt was traded in various markets, as far away as Central Asia.[16] On the downfall of the Mughal empire, the mine was taken over by Sikhs. Hari Singh Nalwa, the Sikh Commander-in-Chief, shared the management of the Salt Range with Gulab Singh, the Raja of Jammu. The former controlled the Warcha mine, while the latter held Khewra. The salt quarried during Sikh rule was both eaten and used as a source of revenue.[citation needed] In 1872, some time after they had taken over the Sikhs' territory, the British developed the mine further.[8] They found the mining to have been inefficient, with irregular and narrow tunnels and entrances that made the movement of labourers difficult and dangerous. The supply of water inside the mine was poor, and there was no storage facility for the mined salt. The only road to the mine was over difficult, rocky terrain. To address these problems the government levelled the road, built warehouses, provided a water supply, improved the entrances and tunnels, and introduced a better mechanism for excavation of salt. Penalties were introduced to control salt smuggling.[17] While working with Geological Survey of India in the 1930s and 1940s, Birbal Sahni found evidence of angiosperms, gymnosperms and insects from the Cambrian period inside the mine.[18]

Location[edit]

Entrance to the mine

Khewra Salt Mine is situated in Pind Dadan Khan Tehsil of Jhelum District. Located about 200 km (125 miles) from Islamabad and Lahore, it is accessed via the M2 motorway, about 30 kilometers (20 miles) off the Lilla interchange while going towards Pind Dadan Khan on the Lilla road.[19][20] The mine is in mountains that are part of a salt range, a mineral-rich mountain system extending about 200 km from the Jehlum river south of Pothohar Plateau to where the Jehlum river joins the Indus river.[5][8][18][21] Khewra mine is about 288 meters (945 feet) above sea level[22] and about 730 meters (2400 feet) into the mountain from the mine entrance. The underground mine covers an area of 110 km2 (43 sq. miles).[23]

Production[edit]

Display of daily salt production

Estimates of the total reserves of salt in the mines range from 82 million tons[10] to 600 million tons.[11] In raw form it contains negligible amounts of Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Sulfates and moisture, with Iron, Zinc, Copper, Manganese, Chromium and Lead as trace elements.[24][25] Salt from Khewra, also known as Himalayan salt, is red, pink, off-white or transparent.[26] In the early years of British rule, the Khewra mine produced about 28,000 to 30,000 tons per annum; it increased to about 187,400 tons per annum for the five fiscal years ending 1946–7 and to 136,824 tons for the two years ending 1949–50 with the systematic working introduced by Dr H. Warth.[27] The mine's output was reported in 2003 to be 385,000 tons of salt per annum, which amounts to almost half of Pakistan's total production of rock salt.[28] At that rate of output, the tunnel would be expected to last for another 350 years.[9]

The mine comprises nineteen stories, of which eleven are below ground. From the entrance, the mine extends about 730 meters (2440 ft) into the mountains, and the total length of its tunnels is about 40 km (25 miles).[3][29] Quarrying is done using the room and pillar method, mining only half of the salt and leaving the remaining half to support what is above.[30] The temperature inside the mine remains about 18–20 °C throughout the year.[15] A 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge railway track laid during the British era is used to bring salt out of the mine in rail cars.[13]

Himalayan salt is Pakistan's best known rock salt.[11] It is used for cooking, as bath salt, as brine[26] and as a raw material for many industries, including a soda ash plant set up by AkzoNobel in 1940.[31] Salt from Khewra mine is also used to make decorative items like lamps, vases, ashtrays and statues,[32] which are exported to the United States, India and many European countries.[13][33] The use of rock salt to make artistic and decorative items started during the Mughal era, when many craftsman made tableware and decorations from it.[34] Warth introduced the use of a lathe to cut out art pieces from the rock salt, as he found it similar to gypsum in physical characteristics.[35]

In 2008 the Government of Pakistan decided to sell off seventeen profitable organizations including Khewra salt mines,[36] but the plan was shelved. The mine is now operated by the Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation, a government department.[29]

Tourism[edit]

A small mosque made of salt bricks inside the Khewra salt mine complex

Khewra Salt Mine is a major tourist attraction, with around 250,000 visitors a year,[6][7] earning it considerable revenue.[22] Visitors are taken into the mine on a train.[15] There are numerous pools of salty water inside. The Badshahi Mosque was built in the mining tunnels with multi-colored salt bricks[8][37] about fifty years ago.[20] Other artistic carvings in the mine include a replica of Minar-e-Pakistan, a statue of Allama Iqbal, an accumulation of crystals that form the name of Muhammad in Urdu script, a model of the Great Wall of China and another of the Mall Road of Murree.[15][20] In 2003 two phases of development of tourist facilities and attractions were carried out, at a total cost of 9 million rupees. A clinical ward with 20 beds was established in 2007, costing 10 million rupees,[38] for the treatment of asthma and other respiratory diseases using salt therapy.[39] The "Visit Pakistan Year 2007" event included a train safari visit of Khewra Salt Mine.[40] In February 2011 Pakistan railways started operating special trains for tourists from Lahore and Rawalpindi to Khewra. For this purpose the railway station of Khewra was refurbished with the help of a private firm.[41]

Other visitor attractions in the mine include the 75-meter-high (245 feet) Assembly Hall; Pul-Saraat, a salt bridge with no pillars over an 25-meters-deep (80-foot-deep) brine pond; Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors), where salt crystals are light pink; and a cafe.[19][20]

Other projects[edit]

Students of the Mine Survey Institute gathered inside a tunnel

The Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation established the Mine Survey Institute at Khewra in 1971.[6] The institute conducts mine surveys, organizes mining-related courses for the miners[42] and has establishes the Khewra Model High School and the Khewra Women College.[6][42] More recently the miners won an important environmental case against the mining company for the provision of unpolluted drinking water.[43] The water available to the residents of Khewra had been polluted by salt, coal and other nearby mining activity. This case is internationally recognised as important with regard to the relationship between humanity and the environment.[44][45][46]

In 2003, while the Government of Pakistan was looking for ways to increase the country's strategic store of oil to 90 days, the PMDC put forward a proposal to use the Khewra mines to store strategic oil reserves.[22] Scientific reports confirmed the feasibility of this proposal, but it was turned down.[47]

Flooding in 2010[edit]

In 2010, during torrential rain all over Pakistan, water from a nearby nullah entered the mine,[48] reaching a depth of two feet (60 cm) and blocking the exits, after which the mine was closed.[49] It was subsequently reopened and remains open.[50]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ O.H.K. Spate; Andrew T.A. Learmonth, B.H. Farmer (13 July 1972). India, Pakistan and Ceylon: The Regions. Methuen Publishing Ltd. p. 502. ISBN 978-0-416-75530-5. Retrieved 3 April 2012. 
  2. ^ Stanley J. Lefond (1 January 1969). Handbook of World Salt Resources (1st ed.). Springer. p. 347. ISBN 978-0-306-30315-9. Retrieved 3 April 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Camerapix (July 1998). Spectrum Guide to Pakistan. Interlink Books. p. 150. ISBN 978-1-56656-240-9. Retrieved 8 April 2012. 
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  9. ^ a b Pennington, Matthew (25 January 2005). "Pakistan salt mined old-fashioned way mine". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 8 April 2012. 
  10. ^ a b Natural Resources of Humid Tropical Asia (Natural Resources Research) (1st ed.). UNESCO. April 1974. p. 101. ISBN 978-92-3-101056-9. Retrieved 14 May 2012. 
  11. ^ a b c Frank C. Whitmore; Mary Ellen Williams (1982). Resources for the twenty-first century. Washington D.C: U.S. Geological Survey. p. 175. OCLC 623259129. Retrieved 7 April 2012. 
  12. ^ Society of Arts (Great Britain) (7 November 2011). Journal Of The Society Of Arts 43. Nabu Press. p. 258. ISBN 978-1-271-48500-0. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  13. ^ a b c Helen Bateman; Jayne Denshire (30 July 2005). Dangerous Creatures Of The Oceans. Creative Co. p. 9. ISBN 978-1-58340-768-4. Retrieved 3 April 2012. 
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  16. ^ Andre Wink (March 1990). Al Hind: The Making of the Indo Islamic World. Brill Academic Publishers. p. 171. ISBN 978-90-04-09249-5. Retrieved 7 April 2012. 
  17. ^ Sir Edwin Arnold (1862). The Marquis of Dalhousie's Administration of British India 1. Saunders, Otley, and Co. p. 166. ISBN 978-1-290-28762-3. Retrieved 7 April 2012. 
  18. ^ a b Michael A. Cremo (1 November 2010). The Forbidden Archeologist. Torchlight Publishing. p. 166. ISBN 978-0-89213-337-6. Retrieved 7 April 2012. 
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  20. ^ a b c d Sheikh, FD (12 April 2008). "Khewra Salt Mines: A fascinating place". Dawn. Retrieved 13 April 2012. 
  21. ^ Stacy Taus-Bolstad (January 2003). Pakistan in Pictures. Lerner Publishing Group. p. 55. ISBN 978-0-8225-4682-5. Retrieved 14 April 2012. 
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  23. ^ Attique ur Rehman; Amjad Aslam; Muhammad Akhyar Farrukh (2010). "Preparation of Analytical Grade Sodium Chloride from Khewra Rock Salt" (PDF). World Applied Sciences Journal (IDOSI Publications) 9 (11): 1223. ISSN 1818-4952. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  24. ^ Robert V. Titler; Paul Curry (14 September 2011). Chemical Analysis of major constituents and trace contaminants of Rock Salt (PDF) (Technical report). Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. p. 17. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
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  27. ^ J.Coggin Brown (7 February 2008). Mineral Wealth: Part III. Materials used in building construction, civil engineering, etc. Isha Books. p. 507. ISBN 978-81-8205-483-7. Retrieved 5 April 2012. 
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  34. ^ Annemarie Schimmel (5 February 2004). The Empire of the Great Mughals: History, Art and Culture. Reaktion Books. p. 102. ISBN 978-1-86189-185-3. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  35. ^ James Joseph Louis Ratton (30 August 2011). Hand-book Of Common Salt. Nabu Press. pp. 10–11. ISBN 978-1-178-95413-5. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  36. ^ "Steel Mills to be sold this fiscal". The Nation. 14 November 2008. Retrieved 12 April 2012. 
  37. ^ Annemarie Schimmel (December 1980). Islam in the Indian Subcontinent. Brill Academic Publishers. p. 107. ISBN 978-90-04-06117-0. Retrieved 7 April 2012. 
  38. ^ "Salt mine resort for asthma patients". Dawn. 27 March 2007. Retrieved 14 April 2012. 
  39. ^ Shahzad, Khurram (26 March 2010). "Asthma treatment in Pakistani salt mine". The Telegraph. Retrieved 6 April 2012. 
  40. ^ "Prepare to 'visit Pakistan Year 2007'". Daily Times. 8 December 2006. Retrieved 13 April 2012. 
  41. ^ "Khewra railway station restored". Dawn. 5 February 2011. Retrieved 12 April 2012. 
  42. ^ a b "Mine Survey Institute". Khewra Services. PMDC. Retrieved 12 April 2012. 
  43. ^ General Secretary, West Pakistan Salt Miners Labor Union Khewra, Jhelum v. The Director, Industries and Mineral Development, Punjab, Lahora, Human Rights Case No. 120 of 1993, (1994) S.C.M.R. at 2061.
  44. ^ "Pakistan – Constitutional Rights, Mining Operations, Water Pollution". UNESCAP Virtual Conference. United Nations. 30 October 2003. Retrieved 8 April 2012. 
  45. ^ http://www.unhchr.ch/environment/bp4.html UNHCR paper on Human Rights and the environment
  46. ^ Louis J Kotzé; A. Paterson (16 April 2009). The Role of Judiciary in Environmental Governance: Comparative Perspectives. Wolters Kluwer Law & Business. pp. 396–397. ISBN 978-90-411-2708-2. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  47. ^ "Building oil reserves with taxpayers' money". Dawn. 27 November 2006. Retrieved 14 April 2012. 
  48. ^ "Floodwaters enter Khewra Salt Mines". The Nation. 7 August 2010. Retrieved 12 April 2012. 
  49. ^ "Breach floods 10 villages". The Express Tribune. 12 August 2012. Retrieved 14 April 2012. 
  50. ^ http://tribune.com.pk/story/617747/khewra-salt-mines-healing-heights/

External links[edit]