Carrickfergus Salt Mines.


A little known fact about Ireland is that it has its own salt mine located along the coast road out of Carrickfergus County Antrim. Beneath the Antrim coast lies a massive deposit of rock salt which stretches as far as Russia, the origin of which stretch back a massive 220 million years to times when Ireland then a small part of the super continent Pangea, occupied a more southerly position on the globe and was in fact a desert region. Periodically the sea encroached over the land and occasionally these inundations became isolated from the main oceans, when this happened the water evaporated under the baking desert sun leaving behind the salt mixed with other sediments.

Much of the salt in this massive deposit was formed during the Permian and Triassic periods, while the Carrickfergus salt was formed during the Triassic. The salt was discovered in the 1800's when exploring for coal, when we think of mining coal we visualize a seam of a few feet thick, the salt is altogether different a deposit of rock salt at Larne (North of Carrickfergus) is estimated to be 400 metres (1,312 ft) thick.

The mine workshop.

The picture below shows the mine workshop, it is a cavern about 200 ft long, 60 ft wide and between 30 and 40 ft high. The machine being worked on is a Volvo Dump Truck used to transport the salt from the mine face to the crusher which converts the rock salt to the gritting salt we are all familiar with on the roads in winter time

The crushed salt is carried from the mine on a series of conveyors, when on the surface it is mixed with a chemical which prevents it solidifying, it is then stored under cover awaiting distribution which can be by lorries for local customers or by shiploads from the company's own quay adjoining the mine.