Planning for future reserves and extraction sites
Swiss Saltworks is mandated by the 26 cantons and the Principality of Liechtenstein to ensure independent and reliable supplies of salt for Switzerland on a basis of solidarity, and to do so from domestic production. In order to carry out this mandate in the long term, the company is constantly expanding the salt map of Switzerland and collecting geological data about the depth, extent, position and purity of salt deposits in Switzerland. For this purpose, exploratory boreholes are sunk and seismic measurements carried out in suitable regions following meticulous planning and after informing the local population.
Switzerland's salt deposits
Switzerland’s salt was gifted to us by the primordial ocean that evaporated 200 million years ago. It left behind layers of salt up to 50 metres thick in north-western Switzerland, the Jura and the Swiss Plateau. These deposits will satisfy Switzerland’s needs for centuries to come.
The salt processed at the Bex Salt Mines comes from the rocky region surrounding the salt mine. At the saltworks in Riburg and Schweizerhalle, salt is produced from nearby underground deposits. However, the 50 or so active boreholes required for this in Möhlin (AG) and Pratteln (BL) will only supply salt until around 2025. Swiss Saltworks will have to be able to extract salt for its saltworks in north-western Switzerland from new sites by that time at the latest.
Concession extensions with the cantons
Extraction franchises granted by the cantons of Aargau and Basel-Landschaft form one basis for planning future extraction projects. These concessions lay down the rights and obligations of the concession holder and create the necessary fundamental planning security for Swiss Saltworks. However, concessions do not give Swiss Saltworks an automatic right to extract salt in these regions. Each individual extraction project is subject to a comprehensive licensing procedure.
The existing salt extraction concessions in Aargau and Basel-Landschaft expire at the end of 2025. After negotiations were concluded, in mid-June 2021 the State Council of the canton of Aargau definitively approved the extension of the agreement from 2026, with validity up to 2075. The State Council of the canton of Basel-Landschaft agreed, following the conclusion of negotiations, to an extension of the franchise. The matter was then passed on to the cantonal parliament for approval (media release) (in German).
Geological and seismic surveys
A further indispensable foundation for planning safe and environmentally friendly extraction projects is to conduct scientific investigations of the local geology and hydrogeology.
To add to the salt map in north-western Switzerland, Swiss Saltworks undertook seismic surveys in nine municipalities in the Aargau and Basel-Landschaft in 2020.
New extraction sites in north-western Switzerland
Investigations are currently being conducted in the canton of Aargau with the aim of developing a new extraction site to the west of Wallbach, known as the Nordfeld. You will find further information in the project description here (in German and French).
Swiss Saltworks revised extraction plans in the concession area of the canton of Basel-Landschaft at the end of June 2020. Scheduled salt extraction under the Rütihard was suspended and has been deferred for at least 20 years against a background of uncertainty about regional policy and planning delays (media release) (in German and French).
Swiss Saltworks is currently developing alternative scenarios in order to ensure reliable supplies even without salt from deep down below the Rütihard. Options could be available in the current concession areas, including extending the operation of existing salt fields and possible alternatives outside the concession areas.
You will also find regularly updated information and news about extraction plans at saline.ch (in German and French), our platform for the local population and partners in mining areas.