Thanks for your email and for your concern for the environment, we also share a concern for the environment and consider ourselves stewards of the salt deposit and the land the above the deposit where we have an all natural, grass fed, raw milk operation. (You can learn about our farm here http://www.redmondfarms.com)
The mine is completely underground which limits the surface impact to the portal and entrance of the mine (think of a baseball diamond), and for this impacted area we have a reclamation bond to cover restoration of the entrance to the native look at the end of operations. While the surface impact of the mine operation is relatively small, the salt deposit itself is about 1/4 mile wide, 3 miles long (near the surface), and over 5,000 feet deep. The deeper the deposit goes, the wider it gets. Since my grandfather and his brother started extracting salt in the 1950’s from below their farm, we are only currently down about 400 feet into the deposit. In the first 400 feet we have mined, it is estimated that we have only extracted about 40% of the available salt. Although 400 feet sounds deep if you have never been underground, in mining it is very shallow. Although the deposit is technically a finite and limited deposit as it is the remnants of an ancient sea bed (more on that below), it is estimated that there are over 1,500 years of easily accessible salt at current growth rates.
Because the salt deposit is completely underground extracting the salt doesn’t technically play a role in the ecosystem around the deposit (other than many an earthworm that finds a solid wall of salt) nor is it affected by the mine. Our free range chickens and grass fed cows occasionally see a truck go by with salt in it, but that is probably the only impact.
With your passion for the environment I’d guess you might also be interested in the geology of the deposit so I’ll include that as well. I’m not an expert, and I wasn’t alive back then to confirm this, but . . . according to geologists, the salt deposit is the remnants of an ancient inland sea from eons ago. Geologists date this in the Jurassic Period which they say was 150+ million years ago. It would seem that it is most likely a remnant of the ancient Sundance Sea which was an arm of what we know as the Arctic Ocean that flooded down into what is now the Utah, Montana, Colorado, Dakotas, Nebraska area. (See info and Websites on the bottom of the email). Over time, the salt that settled at the bottom of the sea was trapped within the Earth and has since been pushed up near the surface close to the town of Redmond, UT. The deposit occurs with over 60+ natural trace minerals which gives the salt its unique color, unique flavor, and numerous health benefits. Because the Real Salt deposit is the remnants of an ancient sea bed, this salt was laid down in its pristine form long before the Earth knew the pollution and contaminants that are troubling our planet today.
Here is a good link on the “Sundance Sea” if you are interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sundance_Sea
The salt deposit begins about 30 feet below the surface and where it has been protected over the years by a layer of bentonite clay which has not only kept the deposit from being washed away from surface water but has also kept the deposit safe from other possible contaminates. If you are interested, here are a couple links to some videos that talk more about the salt and also talks a little about our history and shows some footage of the operation.
From one of our customers who uses our Real Salt in their bread – This one talks about our food grade processes and shows footage of the opening as well as our mining process for our food salt (Real Salt Brand):
From the Travel Channel – This talks about our industrial operation for salt production for agriculture, and de-icing for roads and gives a good 3D view of the mine. As this one explains my grandfather started the mine as an “open pit” and now we are underground which has kept the mine surface footprint smaller. This one gives you a feel for the size of the operation and shows that a very small portion of the mine/operation goes to our food salt production.
This is one that we made and talks more about our company, our history, and our “why” – Although the company is now a lot larger than when my grandfather started the company and is no longer owned just by my family, you can see that what we are about and what we believe.
I hope this helps answer some of your questions and please feel to contact us again if there is anything we can help with.