Minesalt: Historic Ukrainian salt mines captured by Russia recreated in Minecraft virtual world

The Ukrainian Soledar salt mines have been recreated in the Minecraft universe
The Ukrainian Soledar salt mines have been recreated in the Minecraft universe Copyright Credit: UNITED24
By Theo Farrant
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UNITED24 have recreated the famous Soledar salt mines in Minecraft to rebuild a school destroyed by Russian aggression.

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The historic salt mines of Soledar, Ukraine have found new life in the digital realm of Minecraft. 

French developers Endorah, in collaboration with UNITED24, have unveiled the project "Minesalt," a Minecraft-based game that aims to spotlight Ukraine's ongoing conflict while raising crucial funds for the reconstruction of the Velyka Kostromka school, devastated by Russian attacks. 

The eastern Ukrainian town of Soledar was once a thriving hot spot, boasting Europe’s largest salt deposits and a population exceeding 10,000.

But the tranquility of the town was shattered two years ago by the invasion of Russian forces, resulting in widespread destruction and depopulation. Since January 2023, the ruins of Soledar and its surroundings have been under Russian occupation.

Central to the Minecraft server's narrative are UNITED24 ambassadors, an eclectic mix of celebrities featuring the likes of Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, Nobel Prize winner Paul Nurse, actor Misha Collins, and Ukrainian boxer Oleksandr Usyk. 

The ambassadors, alongside real-life miner Stepan Bandrivskyi, guide players through the virtual labyrinth of Soledar's mines, offering a glimpse into its history and cultural significance.

Block by block: Exploring Soledar's salt mines

Photo shows inside the Soledar salt mines recreated in Minecraft
Photo shows inside the Soledar salt mines recreated in MinecraftCredit: UNITED24/Minesalt
Photo shows exterior of the Soledar salt mine entrance on Minesalt
Photo shows exterior of the Soledar salt mine entrance on MinesaltCredit: UNITED24/Minesalt

On the server, players can explore 16 locations with over 500 kilometres of tunnels, encountering stories and collecting 140 salt crystals throughout the virtual landscape along the way.

After completing their journey and interacting with a number of UNITED24's brand ambassadors, players face a quiz to test their understanding of the mines' history.

“As the city is under temporary occupation, Minesalt is the only way to explore the incredible beauty of these salt mines and commemorate the historical and monumental elements of this place,” said United24’s Yaroslava Gres. 

“We hope that as many people as possible around the world will go through Minesalt and fall in love with the Soledar mines as we have.”

At the end of the experience, players are encouraged to donate to rebuild the Velyka Kostromka School, destroyed by a Russian missile attack in October 2022.

Donations for the rebuilding of the school can be made on the project's landing page or via the link in-game (you can make a donation here). 

Check out the video above for a closer look at the game.

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