Khewra Salt Mine

Salt-CavesThe Khewra Salt Mine (or Mayo Salt Mine) is located in Khewra, north of Pind Dadan Khan, An administrative subdivision of Jhelum District, Punjab, Pakistan. It is Pakistan’s largest and oldest salt mine and the world’s second largest. It is a major tourist attraction, drawing up to 250,000 visitors a year. Its history dates back to its discovery by Alexander’s troops in 320 BC, but it started trading in the Mughal era. 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 of about 99% pure halite. Estimates of the reserves of salt in the mine vary from 82 million tons to 600 million tons.

The Khewra Salt Mine is also known as Mayo Salt Mine, in honour of Lord Mayo, who visited it as Viceroy of India. 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). 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.

Ailing horses of his army also recovered after licking the rock salt stones. During the Mughal era the saltHimalayn-Salt-Cave was traded in various markets, as far away as Central Asia. 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, sometime after they had taken over the Sikhs’ territory, the British developed the mine further. They found the mining to have been inefficient, with irregular and narrow tunnels and entrances that made the movement of laborers 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.
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. In raw form it contains negligible amounts of Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Sulfates and moisture, with Iron, Zinc, Copper, Manganese,

Salt-MineChromium and Lead as trace elements Salt from Khewra, also known as Himalayan salt, is red, pink, off-white or transparent.Salt from Khewra, also known as Himalayan salt, is red, pink, off-white or transparent.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) .In 2008 the Government of Pakistan decided to sell off seventeen profitable organizations including Khewra salt mines, but the plan was shelved. The mine is now operated by the Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation, a government department.

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