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Local salt mine enjoys seasonal turnaround

Central New Yorkers may be adding another inch or two of snow on Wednesday to the growing piles already on the ground – enough for crews to again be out working to keep roads clear.
Lansing (WSYR-TV) - Central New Yorkers may be adding another inch or two of snow on Wednesday to the growing piles already on the ground – enough for crews to again be out working to keep roads clear.

So far, it’s been the kind of winter businesses that rely on snow have been hoping for after a 2011-2012 season that was among the most mild in recent memory.

One year ago, a salt mine in Tompkins County was just hoping to keep its staff in place. This year, the company is very busy with the challenge of meeting demand.

As soon as one truck is filled, another is waiting for a load of salt – and there’s a steady flow of rigs following that one.

After a mild start to winter this year, Cargill in Lansing was concerned. But now, the surge in snow and ice has enabled the company to ramp up production.

"We are perfectly happy with one to three inches every couple of days - sells a lot more salt than the really big storms where the crews will tend to wait until the storms are over before they apply salt, which makes sense, so the little bit of snow every couple days is perfectly fine by us,” said Cargill Mine Manager Russ Givens.

In addition to the trucks filled with salt used on roads, the company is filling bags with salt for sale to consumers for home use on sidewalks and driveways. The site generates about 70,000 tons of salt for residents of Central New York and beyond.

"We haven't seen it pick up as quickly as the bulk market has, but we have a pretty good feeling it will. A couple more snows and especially the Eastern Coast snows tends to pick up the retail market quite a bit for us,” Givens said.

They’re certainly ready for a solid winter that goes into March.

Several hundred thousand tons of salt mined from below Cayuga Lake is above ground and ready for delivery.

Salt from Cargill is used by highway crews around the region and as far away as Vermont, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

On Wednesday, the company began training several new seasonal workers to help them keep up with demand. Cargill employs about 150 people at its Lansing facility.

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