An Overview of Pakistan Rock Salt Resources and Their Chemical Characterization

Resources of Pakistani Rock Salts

  • Syed Asim Hussain Key Laboratory of Comprehensive and Highly Efficient Utilization of Salt Lake Resources, Qinghai Institute of Salt Lakes, Chinese Academy of Science, Xining-810008, China
  • Han Feng-Qing University of Chinese Academy of Science, Beijing-100049, China
  • Ma Yunqi University of Chinese Academy of Science, Beijing-100049, China
  • Hawas Khan Department of Earth Sciences, Karakoram International University, Gilgit-15100, Pakistan
  • Yang Jian University of Chinese Academy of Science, Beijing-100049, China
  • Gulfam Hussain Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing-100101, China
  • David Widory GEOTOP/Earth and Atmosphere Sciences Department, UQAM, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Keywords: Kohat-Potwar Plateau, rock salt, reserves, chemical characterization


Rock salt is of importance for both humans and industries. In this study, we discussed the main salt deposits in Pakistan by evaluating the total reserves as well as the rock salt annual production and by characterizing their chemical composition (Na+, Ca2+, Mg2+, K+, B+, K+, Li+, Cl-, SO42-, Br- and NO3-). Our objectives were to document their impurity, water-insoluble matter and moisture contents to ultimately discuss whether the halite in Pakistan, in its natural form, is safe for human consumption. Pakistan rock salt deposits are located in two distinct regions: the Salt Range area in the Potwar sub-basin with huge Precambrian salt deposits and the Eocene Bahadurkhel/Kohat salts in the Kohat sub-basin. Total reserves are estimated over tens of billion tons with an annual production of about 3,534,075 metric tons in 2017-Results show that the halite of the salt range area is purer than the Bahadurkhel/Kohat salts with purity levels (expressed as NaCl) of 99 and 95 wt. %, respectively. Gypsum represents one of the main impurities in halite for both regions, while potash salts (>9 wt. %) are observed in the Salt Range area, K contents are very low in the Kohat salts. Although the halite moisture content is similar for both regions, impurities contents are higher (>5%) for the Kohat salts, arising the need for their purification prior to eventual human consumption.