The North India’s only natural rock salt mines at Drang in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh would become operational on Monday, six year after it was closed due to lack environment clearance and non-payment of dues.

The Member of Parliament (MP) from MandiRamswaroop Sharma and local MLA Jawahar Thakur would give green signal for Drang Salt mines’ operations and sale of the natural salt at a function tomorrow.

The natural salt mines of Gumma and Drang areas of Mandi were shut down in January 2011 due to certain lapses by the Hindustan Salts Limited (HSL) a Central government enterprise.

The HSL had failed to obtain forest clearances and has not paid Himachal’s royalty of Rs 30 lakh that was claimed by the state government since 2003.

The other reason for stopping the extraction work at the mines located at Gumma and Darang area was lack of environment clearance from the Environment and Forests ministry.

Total resources of rock salt as on April 1, 2010, were estimated at 16.03 million tonnes in Mandi.

Out of the total resources, about 10.04 million tonnes are proved reserves and 5.99 million tonnes are probable reserves. Of the total reserve, only a tiny amount of rock salt, around 14,488 tonnes had been extracted so far.

The salt is traditionally used by cattle and sheep rearers across the state for the animals and it is also used for medicinal purposes.

Besides being the only rock salt mines in northern India, these mines are also a tourist attraction.

The royal family of Mandi owned these mines once but they were taken over by the Centre after independence.