Wed, Apr 24, 2024 3:00 PM

Salt of the Earth


William Woodworth

Salt company staff are celebrating their biggest harvest in a decade, with total tonnage set to shatter the 100,000-tonne mark.

Dominion Salt’s Lake Grassmere site is getting set to welcome a bumper salt harvest- thanks to this summer’s hot, dry conditions.

And as the company celebrates its 75thanniversary, staff have even more to smile about after three lack lustre years.

Dominion Salt’s site operations manager Marcel Wicht and solar field manager Darren Topless are thrilled to have started the largest harvest in over a decade.

Dominion Salt’s solar field manager Darren Topless, harvester operators Dylan Honeyfield and Justin McDowell, and site operations manager Marcel Wicht on one of Dominion Salt’s harvesters. Photo: William Woodworth
The salt harvester at work on a stunning day at Lake Grassmere.

“Lake Grassmere usually averages around 70,000 tonne each year, so having some of the thickest salt deposits we’ve seen over all 75 years being here after three years of lean takings is incredibly positive…,” says Marcel.

“That impact flows on to our local community, because without Harvest Haulage and other key local businesses, we wouldn’t be able to have 280 truck movements, harvesting 3000 tonnes a day for weeks on end.”

The 280 truck movements each day deliver 3000 tonnes of salt to the processing plant.
The Lake Grassmere salt harvest has been a bumper crop this year.

After three marginal harvest seasons, including last year’s 900 tonne turnover, this year is looking much brighter.

Solar field manager Darren Topless says this year’s weather has been “a perfect storm” for salt production across the 103 hectares of crystallising ponds.

“With hot, windy weather and very little rain, the evaporation process was ideal in producing brine since late last year,” he says.

“… all the signs were there indicating a bumper season.

“Recent rain had very limited impact; the dedicated solar field team worked around the clock to ensure the harvest was protected at all costs.”

Marcel and Darren at the base of their Lake Grassmere salt mountains.
Comparing last year's salt crust level to this year's shows remarkable difference.

As this year’s salt tonnage climbs higher and higher, Marcel says that recent lean times showed how important the experience and knowledge of local workers is.

“Optimising good harvests allows investment in improving hardware and systems when it’s lean, but that is reliant on weather conditions, hard work, and making well educated decisions when the chips are down.”

“We understand locals are our biggest asset, so we keep our priorities and connections local from long-term family connections and working with our small business supporters to putting on free vans for our workers or helping with petrol, and through supporting Seddon School and the Roadhouse Toy Drive.

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