Banking on China's salt of the earth

This photograph, captured by a drone on Sunday, shows workers collecting raw salt from the Yuncheng Salt Lake in China's northern Shanxi province.

The 132 sq km lake - known as the "Dead Sea of China" - has been used for salt production for more than 4,000 years.

During the Tang Dynasty (618 to 907), revenue from the salt produced by the lake accounted for one-eighth of the country's total revenue, according to a Xinhua news report. However, the lake lost its shine in the 1940s when people discovered other sources of salt in China.

These days, the salt collected from the lake is used to manufacture industrial salt such as mirabilite, a key component in textile making.

The lake has also been given a new lease of life as a tourist destination, with 200,000 visitors each year going to enjoy mineral salt therapy sessions and to take pictures of salt crystal formations in winter.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2019, with the headline 'Banking on China's salt of the earth'. Print Edition | Subscribe