Although the Dead Sea is obviously brimming with huge quantities of salt, for the Dead Sea Works its real treasure are some of the other minerals that are there, especially potassium and bromine. Both products are used for agricultural and industrial purposes. The extracting of these products began with the creation of the “Potassium Company of Eretz Yisrael” in 1929 on the basis of a concession granted by the British Mandate authorities. Its first director was Moshe Novomeysky, a Jew born in Siberia who studied mining engineering and who was chairman of the Council of Siberian Jews. At the start of the 20th century he heard of, studied and dreamed about mining options in the Dead Sea area and even contacted the Ottoman authorities regarding this matter. In 1911 he arrived to see up close the various options, but only after the First World War did he manage to move with his family to Israel.
During the War of Independence mining operations were completely halted because the Jewish workers had to evacuate the area, but in 1952 the government established the Dead Sea Works. Later it became a subsidiary of “CIL – chemicals for Israel”. It remained a public owned company until 1992, at which time the company acquired the public shares from the public and became a private company.
There is some public criticism about the proportion between the huge profits of the company taken from one of the country’s greatest natural resources which belongs to the entire nation, and the relatively low royalties paid to the state treasury. Either way, The Dead Sea, dubbed in Hebrew The Salt Sea has been for the State of Israel a very lively resource.