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ARAYA: "The Salt Queen"

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Written by   65
9 months ago

In this article I wanted to highlight how is the process of obtaining salt in the salt mines of Araya, making a comparison of the decades of the 50s and 60s to how it is today, but in my research I found nothing about salt production, there are only complaints of how the infrastructure has been deteriorating by the bad concessions granted, the overexploitation of the resource and the damage caused to the Laguna Madre, which can still be recovered. So I will only write what I remember, of the times I visited the lagoon and how salt is obtained, in a very generalized way. If you want to know the deterioration of the company, I will leave you some links I found.

As stated in the previous article ..... The castle was built as a guardian of the salt mine, from looters and pirates. From it we can observe the mother lagoon, a natural pink lagoon that holds part of the history of its salt richness, although it also has artificial lagoons that were built to increase salt production. We can also observe the pillotes or salt hills, the town of Araya and the immensity of the sea.

The Araya Salt Complex has about 1,250 hectares and could reach a production of 450 million tons of high quality raw salt per year. This is in addition to the other refining and maintenance units that process salt for human and animal consumption.

Very well, what I remember. The Laguna Madre, so called because it is the site of natural salt extraction, this reddish lagoon, owes its color to a very important algae for salt production, called Dunaliela salina, which occurs naturally, this algae serves as food for another very important organism for the production of salt, as is the Artemia salina, is a small crustacean that is used to feed fish and shrimp (it is the main food in the production of shrimp larvae), for its nutritional value as a source of protein; although I also know people who prepare their own artemia meringue to boost themselves, by the way I didn't get to try it, but I did eat an omelet made with artemia. The added value of Artemia is superior to salt, so, in my case I would produce Artemia and leave the salt as a by-product, here the opposite is not the case anymore.

Ok, we continue, there were 3 water pumps of 8" to 12" diameter, I do not remember well, in a sector called El Guamache, from there 2 pumps were used to extract the sea water to the Laguna Madre and kept it full, the other pump was a replacement for maintenance, this area is a little higher than Araya, the sea water here is not so concentrated salt, As it goes by gravity towards the area of Araya with the wind and solar radiation, it evaporates and concentrates, when it reaches the area of Araya, the salt crystals precipitate forming large blocks, then the salt water follows (called brine), through channels to the beach of the castle, for this reason the waters there are extremely cold.

I knew Araya at the end of the 80's, they still used a kind of barge in the mother lagoon to extract the salt, the lagoon must be about 50 to 60 cm deep, with some iron bars the salt blocks were cut and the barges were filled to then be transferred to the refinery, the people who did that work, generally were barefoot, I really do not know how they put up with that. By 2015 the concession was given to a company that introduced heavy machinery to extract the salt, I really do not know what the benefit was, there was talk that they were destroying the mother lagoon, there was only exploitation of the resource, no investment, according to conversations I have had with villagers about it, they tell me that the salt block in the mother lagoon must be 5 to 10 meters deep, that is .... a lot of salt.

Photo taken from: Comunicaciones. Noticias PDVSA

The refining part I do not know, if I saw tons of salt (refined, in bulk, for animal feed), loaded on trucks leaving Araya, the little I know of the process is because for the year 2000 I was in a project for the production of Artemia salina, which unfortunately did not work for several factors, it is a very exciting production that I will tell you about it later. As you will see it is very easy to produce salt, you only need sea water, wind and sun, with a high evaporation as is the climatic condition of Araya, which occurs naturally.

A: Artemia salina, B: Dunaliella salina

Photo taken from: ReaserchGate

If this is all that is needed to produce salt, I wonder: how is it possible that the largest salt company in the country is bankrupt?

Thanks for reading, you can leave a comment, if you want a guidance I am at your service. Do not forget to subscribe and like me.


Photos were taken by me: Sony Alpha 5000 Camera.

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Written by   65
9 months ago
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Answering your question. In this country, they have managed to break the unbreakable. What else can I tell you?

Back to your article, what you tell about the production of salt is very interesting. I didn't know about Artemia salina. I'd like to try it.

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9 months ago

This animal is very nutritious, it is mainly used as food for shrimp post larvae, it is also the one that gives the sexual character to the shrimp for their reproduction, that is, if the shrimp do not feed on it, they may have sexual dysfunction and not procreate. In some countries the basic exploitation is of artemia. It has a very high commercial value unlike salt, whose value is low, but if there is no artemia there is no salt and the opposite, if there is no salt, there is no artemia, so both must be present. And the species that is in the Araya salt pan is one of the best.

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9 months ago

Thank you for all this information. Very interesting!

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9 months ago