Working in the Salt Mines

working in salt mine

In ancient times, mining salt was grueling work. So difficult was the extraction and transport of this valuable mineral that in Africa, it was traded directly for gold. The “salt road” stretched from Timbuktu to Morocco. Camel caravans 12,000 strong braved the Sahara desert to ship salt a thousand miles to great trading ports in the North.

Today, machines can do much of the back breaking work. And LiuGong wheel loaders are now being used in Namibia in Southern Africa to load salt from the mines. The work is no longer so hard on man, but the salt environment remains very hard on the machines.

The Blaauws Group, based in Swakopmund, Namibia has the contract to extract and transport the salt from the mines there. The company bought a LiuGong CLG835 and a CLG 862 three years ago, and then added another CLG862 in May of this year.

Because of the caustic properties of salt, the machines need a little extra care to keep rust at bay and ensure various components remain pliable and crust free. Each week, mechanics spray mixed grease and engine oil on hydraulic fittings; use silicon protection on electric plugs; they use antirust paint on exposed machine surfaces and spray the machine with clean oil.

The machines work around 8.5 hours per day, and the older machines have run about 9,000 hours with no major problems.

Company officials say LiuGong machines offer them the best performance and value for the money.

And of course, they eat less and behave better than camels.