|Location:||Salihorsk, south of Minsk.|
All year daily.
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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|1949||first potash deposit discovered.|
|1949||first wooden headframe constructed.|
|1958||first potash mine company founded.|
|09-JAN-1961||first production of potash.|
|DEC-1963||full production starts, kali is transported by the train Kali-1 to the farms.|
|1965||second mine opened.|
|1969||third mine opened.|
|1979||fourth mine opened.|
|1990||station for halotherapy opened.|
|2012||new ward for halotherapy.|
The Starobin sediments formed in a basin which was filled with salt at its bottom. Depending on the geographic situation the minerals which are dissolved in the sea water were deposited when huge basins with sea water were evaporated under arid climate. The minerals are deposited in a sequence of salt minerals which have different solubility. The first which is deposited is the least soluble, which is calcium carbonate (limestone), followed by gypsum and salt. Potassium or Kali salt is a special kind of salt which is deposited at the end. When fresh sea water enters the basin, the process starts from the beginning and probably the most soluble salts of the last sequence are first dissolved. So most salt deposits do not contains huge amounts of potash.
The salt deposits at Starobin are excdeptional, as they contain huge amounts of potash. They are actually one of the largest potash salts deposits in the world. As a result they were mined solely for the potash, the common table salt (sodium chloride) was considered slack and deposited in enromous heaps.
The potash is a combination of various salts that contain potassium in water-soluble form. Most common are potassium carbonate (K2CO3), potassium chlorate (KClO3), and potassium sulfate (K2SO4). The salt is a good fertilizer as its minerals are needed by plants. Most usefull as fertilizer is actually potassium nitrate (KNO3) also known as saltpeter, which is unfortunately not found in such evaporitic deposits.
The town Salihorsk or Soligorsk (in Russian) is rather young and was founded for the mining of the high quality potassium. The word Soligorsk means Salt Mountain Town, and refers to the huge piles of hard halite waste material from enrichment plants. Hills of 50 to 80 meters high cover tens of hectares, the millions of cubic meters of salt are subject to erosion by the rain and show intensive karstic processes. There are five potassium mines which were opened during the last 50 years, staring in the late 1950s. One ist still working.
Some abondoned parts of the salt mine in a depth between 420m and 500m were transformed into a apeleotherapy station in 1990. The speleotherapy in salt mines is actually called halotherapy (salt therapy) and it differs to the normal speleotherapy as the air is totally dry and full of salt ions, which have a chemical effect on the respiratory system. Halotherapy is intended for all kinds of respiratory problems. Most patients are children from the regions affected by the Chernobyl catastrophe. But patients are coming from all over the world, mostly Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Japan. Children under the age of 10 are not allowed inside the mine, so a halotherapy station was built in a building on the surface.
The clinic was enlarged with a new ward in 2012. Before the clinic could handle some 250 patients, after the enlargement it handles more than 1,000 patients. The staff is working in three shifts as there are day treatments like breathing gymnastics, volleyball, or tennis and night treatments called healthy sleep. Patients who do not have underground sports treatments spend their time with table games. The patients spend at least three hours per day underground.
The clinic is located at the oldest mine of Soligorsk which is located close to the city. The mine is visited for treatments only. There are no underground tours and there is no mining museum, just the salt therapy center.