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The Lake MacLeod salt operation is located 860 kilometres north west of Perth in the Gascoyne region of Western Australia. The mine is managed and operated by Dampier Salt Limited, a company owned by Rio Tinto with 68.4 percent interest, Marubeni Corporation with 21.5 percent interest and Sojitz with a 10.1 percent holding.

Salt Mining Commenced on Lake MacLeod in the 1960's

Salt mining began at Lake MacLeod during the 1960's under the ownership of BHP subsidiary, Texada Salt Company. The first shipment of salt from the venture was shipped out of the nearby port at Cape Cuvier in 1969. The current operator, Dampier Salt Limited, acquired the salt mine in 1978 from BHP. Dampier Salt Limited is one of the world's largest privately owned salt producers. The Lake MacLeod salt mining operation has a capacity to produce almost three million tonnes of salt a year.

At Lake Macleod Renewable Energy Maintains a Long Term Viable Operation

Salt is produced at the Lake MacLeod site by naturally occurring underground brines, the salt is extracted using the evaporative power of the environment, mainly the wind and sun, to crystallize pure sodium chloride in a series of ponds known as crystallisers. Naturally occurring wind and sun energy makes up 99 percent of the energy required to grow and process the salt product and make it ready for shipment. Salt has been produced in this way at the company's Port Hedland and Lake MacLeod sites for more than 40 years. It is the ideal example of how to use renewable energy sources to maintain a sustainable long term operational viability.

Lake MacLeod Brine is 10 Times Saltier Than Seawater

The brine obtained from Lake MacLeod is around 10 times more salty than natural sea water, this means there is no need to build the concentration ponds that are normally needed to evaporate the water until a salting point is reached. All that is required at Lake MacLeod is a collection ditch that is cut into the halite layer to allow brine recovery to occur. The brine is pumped from this ditch into a larger 8.5 kilometre long transport channel that takes it to a common collection hub from where it is pumped into the crystallisers. There are around 1,650 hectares of evaporators on Lake MacLeod along with 33 crystallisers that have an average size of 23 hectares that are in continuous use producing salt.

Salt is Harvested at Lake MacLeod With a Laser Controlled Salt Cutter

The salt produced at Lake MacLeod is harvested with the use of a laser controlled salt cutter that can cut up to 1,000 tonnes of salt an hour. The laser leaves behind an even surface that is ideal for the following year's growth of salt crystals. The salt is then washed with brine at the wash plant to make certain it has a minimum number of impurities and that the product is of a high quality. After washing the salt is drained on belts made from stainless steel mesh after which it is taken to the special stockpile set aside for washed salt. The salt remains on this stockpile for about two months before it is ready to be loaded onto road trains that take the dry salt to the port at Cape Cuvier from where it is shipped to the world and domestic markets.

There is much room for future expansion of operations at Lake MacLeod as the current operation only takes up 764 hectares of the 220,000 hectare lease.

Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto is a major producer of iron ore, coal, bauxite, alumina, aluminium, uranium, copper, gold, diamonds, salt and energy across the globe. Businesses include open pit and underground mines, refineries, smelters, mills and power stations. Also a number of research facilities more


Rio Tinto
152-158 St George s Terrace
Perth, WA 6000



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