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Independent Salt Company
Box 36
1126 20th Road
Kanopolis, KS 67454

800.ISC.SALT
785.472.4421
785.472.5196 - FAX


(continued from home page)

Salt has a very long and interesting history.  Since it was one of the earliest forms of exchange known to man, it may be that salt production is really the “oldest profession”. The early Chinese used coins made of salt and in Europe many Mediterranean people used cakes of salt as currency.

In the middle ages in Europe your station in life dictated if you were seated “below the Salt”.  The high table for the nobility had salt, the low table for commoners did not, thus if you were seated “below the salt”, you were not of Noble birth.

The first trade routes were built to transport salt.  Salt was part of the pay of early soldiers.The word “salary” come from “sal”, the Latin word for salt. Wars have been fought over salt, and the lack of salt has been responsible for military defeats. Brides have been won with a dowry of salt. But as important as salt has been throughout history, it is even more important now.

Today, salt has hundreds of direct uses and through its derivatives, thousands of indirect uses. Directly or indirectly salt plays a part in almost everything we eat, drink, smell, touch and see.
If salt suddenly disappeared from the earth, we, our industries and farms would soon wither and die.

Rock salt is used in the meat packing industry and for stock feeding.  In recent years it has become widely used to help remove ice from the highways in order to make our winter driving safer.



layer diagram

DRILL


UNDERCUTTER

LHD

RAILCAR LOADING

BULK TRUCK LOADING


SACK TRUCK LOADING

Mining takes place in a 10 foot layer in a salt bearing formation which totals nearly 250 feet in thickness. Because of cycles of flooding and drying spanning millions of years, the salt layers are separated by layers of shale, deposited as dust or mud, measuring from a fraction of an inch to many feet in thickness.

Mining takes place in a 10 foot layer in a salt bearing formation which totals nearly 250 feet in thickness. Because of cycles of flooding and drying spanning millions of years, the salt layers are separated by layers of shale, deposited as dust or mud, measuring from a fraction of an inch to many feet in thickness.

The bed is reached by traveling down a 840 foot deep timber-lined shaft connecting with miles of entries which lead to the mine “face”.  The mining method used is known as “room and pillar” meaning that rooms are excavated and a pillar is left to support the mine roof.  This method allows the removal of 70-75% of the salt, leaving a roof that needs no other means of support.

At the present time, the first step in salt production here is to drill the “face” with a large hydraulic auger drill. After drilling the face, with the holes in a precise pattern, a large machine called an undercutter is used to cut a 6” by 12’ cut at the bottom of the face.

The holes are then loaded with explosives which are “shot” at the end of the work shift each day.  This leaves a pile of broken salt containing pieces ranging in size from a fine powder to lumps weighing many hundred pounds. It requires 3 to 4 hours to clear the smoke and fumes between detonation and loading.  In this fashion we can produce up to 3500 tons in a 2 shift day.

Diesel powered loaders called LHD’s (Load-Haul-Dump) are then used to move the salt to a feeder-breaker which uses a rotating drum covered with picks to break the salt into pieces no larger than a softball and feed it on to a conveyor belt.  This belt then transports the salt to a crusher which further reduces its size before it is taken by belt-line to the bottom of the shaft where it is hoisted to the surface.

The shaft is made up of three chambers, two hoisting chambers at the south end, and a ventilation chamber at the north end.  Here the salt is loaded on skips, each holding 5-1/2 tons.  The hoisting system is designed so that, by using two steel cables fastened to a single drum, a loaded skip is raised to the surface at the same time an empty skip is being lowered into the mine for re-loading.  The hoisting process is entirely automated when used for production and with a hoisting speed of 1000’ per minute a round trip for a skip takes less than two minutes.  The skips are also used to transport men and material into the mine.

After reaching the surface the salt is emptied into dumping bins from which it is carried by belts and bucket elevators to screens where it is sized according to its end use.  The finer grades usually go to feed mills and hide houses, the coarser grades being used for ice control and water treatment.  Any oversized pieces are screened out, crushed, and re-screened.

After sorting, the salt is stored in bins in the mill building from which it is loaded into trucks or rail cars for shipment in bulk, or taken to sacking rooms for packaging before shipment.  The salt we are now bringing to the surface has not been exposed to daylight for over 245 million years.

Historically, the mining process here has been much the same as it is now, except, that in the early days it required much more labor to get the salt out of the mine.  Manpower on the salt carts was replaced by mules, which were kept in the mine.  In the 1940’s, the mules were replaced by small electric trains.  In the late 1950’s, the electric trains were replaced by conveyor belts, which are still being used.   Also, instead of the modern automated hoist now in use, a manual steam powered hoist was used.

 
 
 
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