Salts: global trade and mining

Salts are mined to meet the need of humans, and these needs are many. Phosphates, for example, are needed by present day intensive farming for fertiliser for quality crops and animal feeds which contain minerals ‘essential’ for the development of healthy animals. 

Limestones and mudstones are common phosphate-bearing rocks. Phosphate rich sedimentary rocks can occur in dark brown to black beds, ranging from centimeter-sized laminae to beds that are several meters thick.

We have mined minerals over hundreds of years, but the resources are running low, and that presents a problem for future industrial scale farming.

Industrial models search for new trading partners, new customers, diversification of products and a relentless year on year growth expectation. This model has been shaped since trade began expanding for the various empires which have existed, beginning with the largest which was initiated by the Mongolian Khan, Ghengis.

Image of Ghengis Khan

 (See my early blog

Human interaction with the planet to exploit its generous abundance began in a humble way and grew to the present day ‘profit first, planet second’ attitude as we take out more than can be replenished. 

We are running short of, what we humans have identified, as ‘essential’ minerals to aid our future existence. We are now considering plundering other planets within our universe, or trying to harness passing meteorites to explore their mineral content.

The food industry is said to be so huge in response to world populations. There are fewer farmers but billions of machines now doing the work, all part of a massive industrial complex. A human can work sympathetically with Nature, but machines are not employed to be used in such a way.

An example of the present day reasoning by investors to continue to guarantee their choice of mining for such minerals as phosphates is outlined here, an enlightening read:

The land degradation caused by mining, and in this case, for phosphates, on this planet is symbolically demonstrated on Nauru, in the Pacific, located in Oceania, near Australia. This island was formerly known as Pleasant Island.

I have written about the Pacific Islands in various previous blogs and I have highlighted the threatening sea level rises which they face in the near future. But before this was a known problem, the beauty of Pleasant Island, now Republic of Nauru, was to be destroyed by phosphate mining.

Nauru was one of three great phosphate rock islands in the Pacific Ocean. The others were Banaba (Ocean Island) in Kiribati and Makatea in French Polynesia. 

Phosphate mining in the central plateau has left a barren terrain of jagged limestone pinnacles up to 15 m (49 ft) high. Mining has stripped and devastated about 80% of Nauru’s land area, and has also affected the surrounding Exclusive Economic Zone; 40% of marine life is estimated to have been killed by silt and phosphate runoff.

The mining began in 1906 and never stopped. Even today, though it was thought all phosphate was mined out, a second layer beneath the first has been found and even that is being dug out. The island is an ugly mass of mining trenches. This relentless attack on this small island,  scarring and robbing it of its previous beauty and sustainability, is symbolic of what we humans are doing to the entire planet.

There is a gallery of pictures of Nauru with its indigenous inhabitants living there before the mining became extensive at

Here one of the pictures depicts the children and missionary teachers who arrived earlier to convert the population to Christianty and teaching English.

Below, the images as a result of mining on the tiny island:

Paradise lost image:

Trucks and mining activity image:

And the sadness and travesties continue on this speck in the Pacific Ocean. I’ve put a link to a 2016 Guardian article below to illustrate how humans continue to increase harm upon one another, and on Nauru, a helpless resident population wanting only to remain on their island. Industry justifies continuing their plunder to supply all of us with ‘essentials’. Then read how cynically governments/corporates utilise so called ‘reparation funds’, meant to make life more bearable on this island, yet use the funds to build ‘correction facilities’ for stranded refugees who had been bound from their lands of misery in the futile hope of a new life in Australia.

About borderslynn

Retired, living in the Scottish Borders after living most of my life in cities in England. I can now indulge my interest in all aspects of living close to nature in a wild landscape. I live on what was once the Iapetus Ocean which took millions of years to travel from the Southern Hemisphere to here in the Northern Hemisphere. That set me thinking and questioning and seeking answers. In 1998 I co-wrote Millennium Countdown (US)/ A Business Guide to the Year 2000 (UK) see
This entry was posted in anthropocene and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.