Lake Grassmere

Dominion Salt – Lake Grassmere

Dominion Salt – Lake Grassmere

Seawater contains just over 2.5 per cent sodium chloride, together with significant amounts of other salt. Some 60,000 to 70,000 tonnes of salt are harvested from Lake Grassmere each year. Sea water is pumped into the 688 hectare main lake continuously throughout summer.

As nature does its work and evaporation increases the sea water’s strength, it is pumped into a series of concentrating ponds, where further evaporation takes place.

When the brine reaches saturation point it is transferred into crystallisation ponds during the summer months.

New Zealand’s Marlborough province is renowned for receiving more than its share of sunshine. It was this meteorological feature, coupled with strong, drying Nor’ Westerly winds and large areas of suitable flat land, that persuaded the late George W. Skellerup to establish his solar salt works in 1943.

The salt’s crust is lifted from the bottom of the crystallisation ponds and transported to one of the two washing plants where it is washed in brine before being stacked in 20-metre high piles.

The snowy stacks are something of a landmark, readily visible by day and night from the Blenheim – Christchurch highway. Salt production is highly dependent on low rainfall and evaporation, so it is necessary to hold large stockpiles of salt to counter the fluctuations in annual production.

During the refining process, the salt is rewashed, crushed, dried and screened before being packed in 25 kilo bags, or bulk bags containing 1-1.2 tonnes. Salt destined for the domestic table salt market accounts for a very small fraction of the harvest. Some of this product is iodised and processed at the Cerebos Skellerup packing plant adjacent to Lake Grassmere.

Contact Dominion Salt

Lake Grassmere & South Island Refinery
Marlborough, New Zealand
PO Box 81, Seddon

Phone: 64 3 575 7021
Fax: 64 3 575 7002

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