Solution Salt Mining Summary
Solution Salt Mining
Salt and How it is Mined
Approximately 8,500 square miles of New York State are underlain by rock salt beds of potential commercial thickness. Salt is mined in New York via two methods: underground rock salt mining and solution mining. New York typically ranks third in total salt mined among the salt-producing states in the United States.
Where the Salt Is Found
New York's salt deposits occur layered with shale, dolomite, and anhydrite in the lower part of the Silurian-aged Salina group. The Salina group outcrops in an east-west band from near Buffalo and Rochester through Syracuse to Herkimer County. At the southern edge of the state the salt is approximately 4,000 feet deep.
Where Solution Mining Occurs
Solution mining operations for salt recovery currently take place at two fields in Schuyler County and three fields in Wyoming County.
The solution mining method has also been used and is planned for future use to create underground caverns for storing natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas. This use is not included in the well and production statistics compiled below.
How Solution Mining Works
Fresh water is injected into the salt beds, through wells which are similar in construction to oil and gas wells, to dissolve the salt. The resultant brine is then pumped to the surface.
Plugged wells at current facilities: 236
Unplugged wells at current facilities: 144
Fresh water injected: 2.02 billion gallons
Brine withdrawn: 1.98 billion gallons
How the Salt Is Used
Brine is brought to the surface for evaporation or chemical manufacturing. Salt mined in New York State is used for chlorine and soda ash production as well as for food products and for a wide range of market segments, including agricultural, food, water conditioning, industrial and chemical and packaged ice control. Customers range from home improvement, hardware, grocery, and convenience store retailers, to food makers/processors, water conditioning dealers, and food service and general wholesale distribution.
The U.S. Geological Survey estimates the annual value of New York's 2011 salt production at $452 million (this is included in the total annual value of $1.37 billion of all mineral production in the state). The Department estimates that $100 million of the total $452 million is attributable to salt produced by the solution salt mining production method.