The SALDORO mine drive into our salt mine in Bernburg was a real adventure for our food-bloggers Ronja, Tina, Lea, Bella and Jack and, of course, for our team. It isn’t often that you get the opportunity to drive more than 500 meters deep underground into a salt mine under normal working conditions, because, as a production site for food, the mine is not actually open to the public.
After our first successful SALDORO Blogger cooking event, the next morning at 7: 30 AM, we departed for the town of Bernburg, which is located 80 kilometers away. Our destination was our salt mine, which has existed for over 100 years. There, today, our SALDORO ancient salt is mined.
Into the White Miner Outfits
At the clothing store, our street clothes were first exchanged for white miner outfits. Jewelry, cell phones and bags had to stay “above”. There are two very simple reasons for this: Firstly, the highest hygiene standards prevail in a company that produces salt as food. On the other hand, the fine salt dust that is in the pit’s air, everywhere fixed and corrosive acts over the earth, so it ensures that metallic components rust. Together with helmet, safety goggles and shoes, we went to the safety briefing. There, everyone got a miner’s lamp, a safety case and the urgent warning never to turn off the lights, because underground there are no natural light sources. In the darkness of the pit, you cannot even see your own hand in front of your eyes.
Mine Ride at 500 Meters Deep
On our mine trip, an elevator took us 500 meters underground. We got out at a large parking lot and split up to ride two SUVs.
The salt mine covers an area of around 40 square kilometers. Just so you can imagine how big that is: this is about the size of a small town – and all under the ground. We drove 12 kilometers (!) to our stop through a wide-developed road network. Good orientation and, if necessary, the reading of a compass is mandatory, because a navigation system does not work underground and you won’t find any signage.
The region around Bernburg looks back at a long tradition in salt production. Because of its pure white color and the coarsely crystalline structure, the salt, which is degraded there, is also referred to as crystal salt. And just as beautiful, the walls, ceilings and floors in the pit sparkled in the light of the car headlights underground.
We arrived in a mining chamber that is a good 20 meters wide, 40 meters high and 100 meters long and were amazed by such gigantic dimensions under the earth.
The 250-million-year-old rock salt is mined via drilling and blasting by being blasted into vertical debris in the excavation chamber. One excavator transports a good 50 tons of salt chunks for each bucket load to a conveyor belt, where it is roughly crushed in an initial processing stage and then transported for further processing over a few days. And all during 1-man shifts without natural light sources. The miners deserve our utmost respect. The purity of the rock salt extracted in Bernburg is, on average, 99 percent sodium chloride (NaCl), sometimes even higher!
By the way, we were allowed to take as much salt as we could carry. That’s pretty good – Who can claim at home that they are using homemade ancient salt in the kitchen?
Our pit ride was an unforgettable and unique experience for everyone.
Photos 📸 Jannis Döring