German company K+S has purchased mining licenses for the Ashburton salt project and announced plans for a solar salt production facility near Onslow in Western Australia.
The company's Mark Roberts said: "We want this project to give a boost to our planned expansion into the Asian markets. We see big potential there, and want to sustainably participate in the expected growth there in the future. The purchase of the licenses is the foundation to achieve this."
Annual production capacity for the Ashburton project is expected to be around 3.5 million tonnes of solar salt, and about 75 direct jobs may be created at the new site. The salt produced in Australia is to be mainly supplied to the chemical industry in Asia, particularly to China.
To produce solar salt, ocean water flows into large open evaporation ponds, in which the salt crystallises after being exposed to sunlight for several months. Finally, in a multi-stage process, the salt is harvested, dried and loaded onto ships for distribution.
Read the May 2016 issue of Business Review Australia and Asia magazine