They have been producing salt in Torrevieja for two hundred years. The natural harbour of the town in close proximity to the lagoons which produce salt all year round favoured the development of the industry in the area. Producing salt was the principle activity in the town until the mid seventies when tourism took over.
Salt production was originally heavily reliant upon manpower. Up to the beginning of this century, 2,000 people were employed in the salt works. By 1929 that was reduced to 1,200; by 1940 - 800; by 1980- 548; by 1990 - 362 and today only 150.
The French company, Nueva Compañía Arrendataria de las Salinas de Torrevieja (NCAST) which mines the salt, has been hard hit by the economic crisis. They claim that they cannot pay the agreed wage rises for 2008. In fact they may have to reduce the workforce by 40 men next year.
The salt lakes at Torrevieja produce 700,000 tons of salt per year which represents 20% of the marine salt production for Spain. Unfortunately countries like Egypt, Mexico, Germany, Australia and Senegal are able to supply salt to the traditional markets of the torrevejense operation e.g. Norway at very competitive prices.