The World’s Largest Salt Works Is in Guerrero Negro
Though it can be confused with snow, its salt. And its landscape of white and pink tones, right on the Pacific Ocean, is thrilling to see.
But besides all that, it is the largest salt works in the world, located where the two Baja Californias meet.
Guerrero Negro is in the municipality of Mulegé, Baja California Sur. Of its approximate population of 16,000 people, 1,600 work at Exportadora de Sal. The company was founded in 1954, when Daniel Ludwig, builder of the hotel Acapulco Princess, set up the salt works to supply the western coast of the United States with salt.
The salt works stretches over 33,000 hectares of the Ojo de Liebrecoastal lagoon. It produces seven million tons of salt a year, which flavor dishes all around the Pacific basin: Japan, Korea, Taiwan and New Zealand, as well as the U.S.and Canada.
How Sophisticated Is the Extraction Technology?
All that is needed is water, wind and salt, since it is extracted by evaporation. Ocean water is enclosed in concentration pools, and the sunshine and wind crystallize it, yielding 99.3% pure salt.
This company represents 34% of the world market. In addition to table salt, the salt works produces industrial salt for softening water, caustic soda-chlorine, salt for melting ice on roadways and sodium hypochlorite for drinking water purification.
A Salt Works with Whales
What’s more, every winter whales and resident and migratory birds make their way to the Ojo de Liebre Lagoon, as do tourists from the U.S. and Europe.
The gray whales the major attraction: about 2,000of the cetaceans make the journey from the Arctic, over 6,200 miles. They find Guerrero Negro waters ideal formating and reproducing.
These great big visitors are so important that the government has named Ojo de Liebreagray whale sanctuary, and the Unesco declared it a World Heritage site.
But Guerrero Negro Isn’t Name after the Hero
Despite what many people think, the name Guerrero Negro has nothing to do with the independence hero and second president of the country. It is actually in memory of The Black Warrior, a whaling boat loaded with gold and silver that sank in the region. Due to its stunning landscape –a sodium banquet for any photographer–, several movies have been filmed in Guerrero Negro. The most recent, Under the Salt (2008) is a political thriller that shows the whiteness of the town and the salt works in all its splendor.
Main and cover protographs by Christian Ramiro González Verón and Gilad Rom desde Flickr.