Local salt production: To be improved in next 5 years
10,000-40,000 MT salt imported annually
The Ministry of Industries is to recommence the operations of Mantai Salt Ltd. in Mannar to meet the local demand for salt and provide employment opportunities by boosting local industries.
“With the recommencement of operations at Mantai Salt Ltd., we will gradually increase the production to meet the salt demand in Sri Lanka over the next five years. As a single state-owned enterprise, the company will have to produce 21,000 metric tonnes per annum, so that the country could gradually reduce the salt stocks that are imported,” Minister Wimal Weerawansa noted.
It is estimated that Sri Lanka consumes approximately 150,000 metric tonnes of salt per annum, out of which about 120,000 metric tonnes go for human consumption. Due to the insufficient local production of salt within the country, between 10,000 and 40,000 metric tonnes of salt are imported each year.
In 2020 alone, the Government is said to have spent over Rs. 1 billion on salt imports.
In addition to that, the Ministry of Industries is also working closely with the local universities to conduct research to identify new salt sources in order to establish salterns.
At present, Mantai Salt Ltd. operates two salterns in the Mannar and Jaffna Districts; namely the Mannar saltern and the Chemmani saltern.
The company was reported to be running at a loss from 2001 to 2005 and it paid dividends in 2008 from the earned profits by improving the operational activities in its salterns.
The Ministry of Industries is also said to be looking to reopen the Elephant Pass and Kamburupitiya salterns which were halted.
Weerawansa is hopeful that once the operational activities are reactivated at the Kamburupitiya and Elephant Pass salterns, the country’s salt requirements could be fulfilled by the state-owned enterprises.