Himalayan pink salt is high-quality natural rock salt mined from beneath the Himalayan Mountains in Nepal and surrounding areas. The salt is often used as an alternative to refined table salt but is also well used for food presentation and cooking, for its delectable flavors and for therapeutic purposes. The term" Himalayan" is derived from the word "ha", meaning mountain, and "salt" (as in "salt water"), which means rock. Today, Himalayan salt products can be purchased in most areas of the world, however, due to their high demand and scarcity, Himalayan salt should not be imported into the United States. This salt's production and distribution are very regulated in order to maintain the integrity and quality of the salt and to prevent it from being misused.
When mining the salt deposits, high-grade rock salts are extracted from the ore particles. Then, through years of painstaking work, the salt is purified and reshaped to create the many forms that we use today. The process of mining and purified mining involves extreme physical and chemical stresses to the ore particles and the formation of tiny air pockets that hold water and minerals. Once the pressure and air pockets have been removed, a clean saltwater mineral mixture is formed.
There are three types of salt mines in the Himalayan pink salt range the Dhaulagiri, Choeram, and Dolpo. All of these minerals have their own unique mineral content and characteristics. Himalayan salt mined in Dhaulagiri and Choeram comes from the brine pools located at the foothills of the Himalayan mountains. Dolpo mines can be found all throughout the Himalayan range, however, most of the Dolpo salt comes from within the Lhotse Valley and is considered to be one of the finest and purest salt minerals available. The mineral content of each type of salt mineral is slightly different, but they all share a common crystal structure that includes sodium, calcium, and magnesium. Many varieties of minerals are still waiting to be discovered.
Over the course of the last million years, the impact of human activity has led to the gradual deterioration of the environmental quality of the mines. As more people living in the valleys started to build houses and make farming and other livestock farms, there was a constant demand for more salt. To solve this problem, during the medieval period, powerful maharajas appointed people as administrators and mining contractors to prospect the salt mines for precious metals. In addition, new techniques such as glass working and electrical wiring were introduced along with improved mining equipment. As more people started to mine the mineral salts, the surrounding environment started to suffer as well.
By the time the Industrial Revolution arrived, salt mining was again on the rise and this time it was much more hazardous because the alkalis used to separate the salt from the ore had been replaced by sulphates. Since salt mines inevitably lead to pollution and excessive acid levels in the environment, the government was even more reluctant to open up the area for mining. However, in the mid-nineteenth century, with the support of the British Empire, the Himalayan salt mines were opened up by Indian and British traders. In addition, the salt trade was re-invigorated and many foreign companies began to mine the salt for gold and other precious metals. With the influx of both Indians and foreigners, the once remote region began to experience an influx of both Indian and foreign investors.
Recently, the global financial crisis has caused many residents in the Himalayan regions to be left out of the loop when it comes to investing in natural resources. Many have lost their jobs or had their pay cut drastically because the local mine industries have shut down due to lack of investments in newer technology and supplies. One way to ensure that these people and communities are not left behind is to allow them access to high quality, state of the art mineral and salt deposits. The local Himalayan salt mines are one example of how investment in infrastructure can revitalize a mining community while creating jobs for local workers.
Mining in the foothills of the Himalayan mountains is not only new but it is also taking new advances to the Himalayan salt mines in Pakistan and India. Recently, India opened up its borders with Pakistan and began a route of mineral rich mountainous terrain that will connect the two countries. In addition, Pakistan is opening up its mineral wealth. Recently, Pakistan announced that its first trans-frontier copper mine in India would be constructed in Mohtasan. This announcement came as no surprise to the Indian government, who has been working closely with Pakistan to develop economic zones in the area to support both their mutual interests.
Recently, the Indian government announced that it will allow the mining of alkaline rock salts in India and Pakistan. Many believe that the lifting of the ban on mining in and around the Himalayan regions will make the country less dependent on fossil fuels. This move is anticipated to increase the dependency on foreign oil. There have been speculations in the past that Pakistan could become a major exporter of natural gas and oil, but the lifting of the ban on mining in and around the Himalayan region could change that.