In the small town of Heringen, Eastern Germany, there sits a slightly stupendous slump of salt sifted from sands of several sustained spans of soil scooping. Alright, enough of that.
Monte Kali is one of the most peculiar mountains in the entire world. It is essentially just a pile of mining waste, but it’s chemical makeup and sheer volume make it one of a kind. For over 100 years, since 1903, mining companies have been mining potash in the region. Today, the mine in Heringen is the largest potash mine in the world.
Potash mining produces a significant amount of sodium chloride as a byproduct, known as table salt. For every ton of potash recovered in the mine, there are several tons of sodium chloride produced. This creates a major waste problem.
Since 1976, the K+S Chemical Company has been dealing with the seemingly harmless salt wast from their mines in the area by dumping it at a location now known as Monte Kali. 42 years of dumping table salt in the same spot has resulted in the mound of salt now covering 240 acres coming in at a weight of 221 million tons. That’s the equivalent of 442 Burj Khalifas.
This massive mound of salt has become known to the locals as “Kalimanjaro,” a play on words between Kali – the German word for potash – and the famous Mount Kilimanjaro.
While this mountain of salt may already be sizeable, 992 tons of salt are added to it every hour coming out to nearly 8 million tons of salt added to the mountain each year. That equates to a growth rate of 3.7% year over year – so this salt mountain is only getting bigger.
Image Source: Wikimedia
While such a monstrous mountain of salt is certainly a sight to see, it also is quite damaging to the environment. The local Werra river has become so salty as a result of ground pollution that some parts are saltier than the Baltic Sea. The groundwater in the area has also become nearly too salty to use for any application. Even with these issues, K+S is licensed to keep dumping salt at the site until 2030.
Image Source: Wikimedia
While there are other salt mountains across the world, Monte Kali is the fastest growing and one of the few still in active use. The mining company has also turned the mountain into a tourist attraction with more than 10,000 visitors climbing the mountain each year.
So, can you think of a saltier place?