Salt was first discovered on Avery Island in the late 1700's. Back then it was mined by boiling water from brines. The portion of the mine we're in right now has been continually mined since 1898.
“This shaft was originally sent to 500 feet and over the years we're now down at 1600 feet mining. This salt dome goes down 40-45,000 feet that we're aware of.” said Senior mine engineer Gil Elrod.
Traditionally, people believe mining is a risky business and of course there are hazards. Here at Cargill safety is the number 1 priority.
“We train our people quite a bit. Just last month we did a complete shutdown for one whole day where we trained for eight hours with all of our employees. We've gone close to 500 workdays right now without a recordable incident, that's over 500,000 hours.” said Elrod.
Many of those hours came in the past couple weeks during our uncommon winter weather in Acadiana.
“We thought it was a great opportunity for us to show exactly what we do here at Avery Island. Most of our product is loaded into barges and goes up to northern regions, it really gave us a time to shine and actually provide our material to keep the roads safe for the local communities here in Louisiana.” said Nathan Boles.
In addition to the sugarcane and hot sauce industries, salt mining also plays a large role.
“This particular industry has had a huge impact on this community and always does. In recent months with the increase in production into the winter weather conditions it certainly has been introduced to our economy.” said New Iberia Mayor Hilda Curry.