Khewra Salt Mines


Useful Information

photography
Khewra Salt Mine, Pakistan. Public Domain.
photography
Khewra Salt Mine, Pakistan. Public Domain.
photography
Khewra Salt Mine, Pakistan. Public Domain.
Location: Tehsil Pind Dadan Khan, Jhelum District.
200 km from Islamabad. Lahore-Islamabad Motorway M2, Lilla exit, 30 km towards Pind Dadan Khan. Signposted.
(32.646536, 73.006958)
Open: All year daily 9-18.
[2022]
Fee: Foreigners: Adults USD 20, Students USD 10.
Pakistani: Adults PKR 400, Children (2-12) PKR 200, Students PKR 200, Seniors (/60+) PKR 200.
Trolley Charges: Per Person PKR 200.
Parking Fee: Car PKR 50, Motorcycle PKR 20, Minivan PKR 80, Coach PKR 120.
[2022]
Classification: MineSalt mine ExplainRoom and Pillar Mining ExplainHalotherapy
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=120,000 m.
Guided tours: V=40,000/a. [2005] V=420,000/a [2018].
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography:  
Address: Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation (PMDC), Head Office, 13 H-9. Islamabad, Tel: +92-51-9258708, Fax: +92-51-9258705-06. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

326 BC discovered by the troops of Alexander the Great, who noted the licking of the stones by their horses.
13th century mining established by the chiefs of Janjua-Raja tribe.
16th century mining controlled by the Mughals.
1809 mining controlled by the Sikhs.
1849 Punjab annexed by the British Empire, administration of the mines taken over by the British Government.
1870 mines renamed May Mines.
1872 scientific exploration, mines operated by chief mining engineer Dr H. Warth.
1883 railway to the mine opened.
1902 hospital established to provide medical facilities to miners and their families.
1938 ICI Soda Ash Khewra Plant established.
1947 Government of Pakistan takes over the mine.
1974 Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation (PMDC) established.
2002 Khewra Salt Mines Resort Development Project launched by the PMDC Management.
2004 show mine opened to the public.
DEC-2005 Khewra Asthma Clinic established by Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation (PMDC).
MAR-2007 Khewra Asthma Clinic becomes fully operational.
2010 during torrential rain all over Pakistan water from a nearby nullah enters the mine, show mine closed for renovation.

Geology

The salt was deposited during the Cambrian and is called the Billianwala-Subformation. The salt layer was folded by the tectonic forces of the Himalayan orogeny and the thrusts compressed the salt layers creating the massive deposit. The different salt layers are separated by layers of clay. Quite exceptional is the discovery of Cambrian seeds and insects in the salt.

Description

photography
Khewra Salt Mine, Pakistan. Public Domain.
photography
Khewra Salt Mine, Pakistan. Public Domain.

The salt at Khewra reaches the surface, it was discovered as early as the days of Alexander the Great. According to a legend there was a battle between Alexander the Great and Raja Poro in this area. After Alexander had won the battle, the soldiers were restsing. They soon mentioned, that the horses were licking the ground in a certain area. Here the salt reached the surface and the ground contained more salt than in general, which the horses found out.

Long ago the locals started to mine the salt on the surface, in small opencast mines. In 1872 Dr. Warth, a renowned British mining engineer, built the first tunnel at ground level to access the salt layers. He introduced room and pillar mining with a relation of 1:1, which is used until today. This lower passage is today the show mine. At the moment salt is mined in 19 different levels, producing about 390,000 tons per year [2018]. But Khewra is also famous for gypsum, limestone, lime clay, potash, coal and other minerals.

The salt mined in Khewra - which is often called the biggest or second-biggest salt mine in the world - is primarily used for industrial purposes. More than half of the production, 200,000 tons per year, are sold to Imperial Chemical Industries ICI Soda Ash Khewra. Other customers are Ittehad Chemical Limited at Kala Shah Kaku and various tanneries. A certain amount of salt of the purest quality, called rock salt, is sold as table salt in the country and abroad, especially to India. A small amount is used to produce fancy goods like salt lamps, vases, and ashtrays. They are sold at the tourist mine, but also exported in large quantities. The Himalayan Rock Salt Crystal Lamps are somewhat notorious. It seems they were actually invented by Indian dealers, who purchased cheap salt and sold expensive lamps. Another point for accusations between the two countries. However, the locals also produce them now quite successful.

Khewra mine and the tourist mine are operated by the Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation (PMDC). It is operating four salt mines and four collieries, producing 13% of the countries coal and 52% of the salt. The underground salt mines are located at Khewra, Warcha and Kalabagh in Punjab, and there are salt quarries at Jatta and Bahadurkhel in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). It is operating and continually developing the tourist mine and establishing an Asthma Resort for speleotherapy, or better halotherapy. The newest improvements are a reception centre for tourists and a new walkway to the mine entrance.

The mine is visited on a very long tour. Visitors enter the mine on foot, and it takes 1,5 km to reach the salt. The mine is entered through a long 5 m high and 7 m wide passage with rails on the floor. The rails are from a mine train, which was used to carry the salt, but there are also tours which enter the mine on an original mine train from 1930. The train ride costs an additional fee. As far as we understand the tours are actually self-guided, but it is possible to hire a guide at the entrance. The number of visitors exploded, and before Corona almost half a million visitors visited the mine per year. These are mostly Pakistani, only a few thousand foreign tourists visit the mine. However, this is probably a result of the political situation in the country.

Inside the mine are various attractions. Fascinating is an enormous chamber called Assembly Hall, which is 75 m high. Other chambers are filled with brine, water saturated with salt. It is lighted indirectly, which gives it impressive colours. An area with pink salt is called Shish Mahal.