Beyond freshwater generation: Mineral extraction from seawater desalination brine and seawater greenhouse (SG) farming (Salt-Mine)


Salt-Mine is one The Belmont Forum`s 13 collaborative Research Action (CRA) projects on ocean sustainability. The project is co-funded by the Norwegian Research Council and explores the opportunity of developing sustainable management options for seawater desalination including:

i) Development of better materials (e.g. membranes) and affordable chemistry for extraction of valuable minerals from desalination brine combined with environmentally better brine disposal methods.

ii) Development and piloting of effective seawater greenhouses enabling high-value crops cultivation. 

iii) Assess the impact of seawater intake and brine discharge to limit ecological disturbance.

iv) Analyse the socio-economic aspects upon the coastal communities with emphasis on coastal job creation, food security, and business development for value-generation.

Salt-Mine focuses on seawater desalination valorisation and environmental effects


Work packages (WP):

WP1: Brine valorisation: Extraction of high purity minerals from seawater brine. Lead: CSIRO

WP2: Improving the horticultural and artisanal mineral extraction efficiency of artisanal SG in semi-arid coastal regions of least developed countries. Lead: PENHA

WP3: Environmental and socioeconomic impact of seawater desalination plant operation and discharge on the environment. Lead: NIVA

WP4: Project management and stakeholder engagement/interaction and dissemination. Lead: NIVA


a) Assess the commercial viability of an artisanal and developing country-adaptable SG for integrated production of freshwater, horticultural produce and artisanal mineral extraction (including food-grade-quality NaCl, Li, Mg and other minerals), using the Berbera SG as a proof of concept for replication in similar developing country like Kenya.

b) Investigate & quantify the environmental and social economic impacts of SDP operation including: brine discharge, noise pollution on marine life and surrounding human communities and energy demand and pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions.

c) Compare and contrast national or regional environmental regulations on SDP operation and brine discharge (or similar discharge regulations where SDP-specific regulations do not exist) in the five partner countries.

d) Evaluate the socioeconomic consequences of constructing new SDP’s in developing countries including prospects of job creation (from mineral extraction from SGs) and SDP-sourced water affordability, and possible job losses at existing potable water providers.

Project period: 2020-2023 


The project is part of Belmont Forum`s collaborative research action on Transdisciplinary Research for Ocean Sustainability, and it is financed by the Norwegian Research Council, South Africa´s National Research Foundation (NRF), Australia`s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CISRO), and The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA)

The Salt-Mine consortium brings together partners from Norway, South Africa, Australia, Somalia and Kenya. 

Salt-Mine-organization chart cropped

Involved partners




















Last updated 18.06.2020