The Irish Salt Mines in Carrickfergus is once again doing its bit to help keep the roads free from snow and ice this winter.
Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard recently went to see first-hand the work undertaken to extract rock salt for distribution on the roads network across Northern Ireland.
“My department has over 70,000 tonnes of salt stockpiled and 20,000 tonnes in reserves for salting which will help keep our people, goods and services moving over the winter months.”
The Minister, who added that 130 gritters and 300 staff are on standby during the winter months to keep our roads open, toured the mine where he was shown the cutting, extraction, drilling, filtering and crushing of the rock salt to prepare it for distribution on the roads.
He added: “The timely supply of salt is vital for ensuring the free flow of traffic on the main roads network in the north, especially during severe cold weather. To see at first-hand the complete process of just how that salt comes from the mine to our roads is impressive.”
The mine uses conventional room and pillar methods where the salt is cut, drilled and blasted from the faces, hauled to an underground crushing plant and then brought to surface storage sheds.
“Salting the main roads network is a key part of my department’s winter service programme and I am acutely aware of the collective effort it takes to keep this going each year. The gritting teams work tirelessly to ensure that the main roads network remains open to traffic by salting almost 7,000km of roads which caters for 80% of all traffic.”