Minerals for Mankind

As the global population grows, soon it will be impossible to feed everyone without using fertilizers. That is why potash salt is mined by the tonnes at the root of the Ural Mountains. But what kind of effort does that take?

Potash salt is one of the most important fertilizers. No cereal crops can be cultivated on a commercial scale without potash salt. That is why this type of fertilizer is produced by the tonnes everywhere in the world – in particular, at one of the newly built plants located in Russia. A metal door closes, and the elevator slides down into its depths. It’s time to do business! Water splashes all over the place. Someone scratched “Children of the underground” on the elevator wall. The elevator plunges 500 meters deep into the earth.

It is wet and dark in the heart of the mine run by Usolskiy Potash (Perm Region), situated near the Ural Mountains. Air down below has a salty flavour, tunnel walls are porous and rough like wet sand.

A fan pumps fresh air into the depth of the mine through a large hose. In a while, the porous tunnel walls will not be as grey as they are now: they will be covered by black, red and white patterns. Black, soft and velvety layers are clay. White and red layers are harder because they are made of salt and rusty-coloured muriate of potash. The red substance, sought so badly by everyone, is mined from the subsoil, pushed to surface, flushed in water, passed through filters many times, dried and finally sold as powder or pellets. This is potash salt, the fertilizer that helps plants grow faster… Read More

Story by Theresa Weiss – 05.09.2018 ·

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