One of SEArcularMINE’s goals is to develop innovative, sustainable solutions for harvesting salt and critical raw materials. SEArcularMINE’s concept is built on the ancient and still widely used process of saltworks, where seawater goes through natural evaporation and fractionated crystallization in shallow basins. The resulting brine (bittern) contains high concentrations of valuable trace elements.

Mediterranean saltworks produce two main kinds of salt: sea-salt, from the evaporation of sea water; and solar-salt, from the evaporation of brine obtained from underground, salt-lakes and salt-deposits. Due to local climates, saltworks in the northern Mediterranean rim (European countries) have a narrower window of time for salt and bittern production, often limited to the summer months only. In contrast, countries in the southern Mediterranean rim have longer, often year-long seasons for producing salt and bittern. SEArcularMINE is working with samples from over 20 saltwork sites across this range to develop processes that are suitable for a wide-variety of situations.

As part of Work Package 2, SEArcularMINE partners are looking for ways to improve the extraction of salt and other elements from bittern solutions. Over the summer period, SEArcularMINE collaborators, Solana Pag Saltworks (Croatia) harvested bittern samples which were sent to project partners ResourSEAs (Italy) in July. ResourSEAs are analysing these “waste” samples to map bittern quality and mineral compositions across a wide geographical range. This work will increase our understanding of what minerals are available from different saltworks and lays the foundation for future improvements in mineral extraction.

Many thanks to the Solana Pag Saltworks team for their continued collaboration!