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A salt miner operates equipment used in the extraction of salt from underground and surface deposits. This includes a variety of grades of salt, from culinary or table salt to products used in deicing and similar applications. Like other mining jobs, working in salt production can be hazardous, as it may involve heavy equipment, harsh working conditions, and long hours. Positions in this field are typically open to heavy equipment operators, manual laborers, engineers, and administrative support staff.
Underground mining was historically conducted by sending miners underground with picks and other tools to remove salt. Today, many salt mines use a solution extraction technique where they inject water into a deposit, pump it to the surface, and process it to extract the salt. The miners operate the equipment for this process and perform regular quality and safety checks. Periodically, it may be necessary to sink new boreholes for exploration or to develop new extraction sites.
Salt miners can also work on surface deposits, which can be natural salt flats or man-made salt deposits created by moving heavily briny water through a series of evaporation ponds. In these locations, a salt miner may work by hand to extract usable salt, or can operate the equipment used for evaporation and salt collection. Developing countries are more prone to using manual labor because it is less expensive than equipment, and it may also be difficult to import equipment and the necessary parts for maintenance and repairs.
Physical fitness is usually required to work as a salt miner. The job can require extensive bending and lifting, as well as work with heavy tools and containers. A heavy equipment operator certificate may be necessary to handle loading trucks, diggers, and other tools used on the job. Personnel at a mine may also need safety training and certifications as part of a workplace safety program intended to minimize the risk of injuries and other problems on the job.
Room for advancement in this field can vary. At large facilities, a salt miner may be able to work into a supervisor position which may come with better wages and benefits. Smaller salt mines, particularly those that rely heavily on manual labor, tend to have fewer senior positions available. A salt miner with experience may consider transferring to another facility where there could be more room for acquired skills, depending on needs and the ability to relocate for job opportunities.
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