Most people who hear the word ‘mine’ or ‘mining’ immediately think of China, Chile, or South Africa. They think of the mining accidents, the imagery of people working in mines, and the billions of dollars made in these regions. While South Africa has some of the deepest mines in the world, many other famous mines are situated in the United States and Canada, designed with complex tunnels, elevators, and shafts.
A large majority of these deep mines contain huge deposits of a diverse array of minerals, such as gold, copper, lead, tin, and zinc. However, accessing these minerals is a major undertaking associated with many risks. Most regions of the world evaluate the mine, the surrounding area, and the risks involved before they go about exploring these natural resources.
Here is an overview of the ten deepest mines in the world:
1. Mponeng Gold Mine (South Africa)
Mponeng Gold Mine is the deepest mine in the world. Current estimates indicate that the Mponeng mine is around 3.2 to 3.9 kilometres below the surface. This mine is located just southwest of Johannesburg in South Africa.
As per the last reports, there are plans by the South African government to further extend the operating depth of this mine by half a kilometre. This mine is not just deep, but it is also rich in resources. Only last year, it produced 265,000 ounces of gold. The mine is so deep that it would literally be impossible to navigate without the equipment, supplies, and mining lamp camps to guide through the underground.
2. Driefontein Mine (South Africa)
Driefontein mine is the second deepest mine in the world with a depth of 3.42 kilometres. This mine is located in the Gauteng province of South Africa.
The mine first started operating in 1952 and uses a combination of shafts and longwall mining to extract gold. In 2018, approximately 9.57 million ounces of gold were extracted from the Driefontein mine using a combination of longwall and scattered mining methods. Again, this mine also has a lot more resources that still need to be explored.
3. Kusasalethu Gold Mine (South Africa)
Kusasalethu Gold Mine is in the top three deepest mines in the world. This mine is located about an hour’s drive west of Johannesburg on the West Wits line in the Province of Gauteng, South Africa. It is said to be the third deepest operation mine, with a depth of 3.38 meters below the surface.
The Kusasalethu mine started to operate in 1978 and is composed of two mines, namely Deelkraal and Elandsrand. In 2018, the mine produced 142,395 ounces of gold and has proven reserves of at least 857,000 ounces. Moreover, exploratory activities continue on this mine and there must be a lot more to discover.
4. Moab Khotsong Gold Mine (South Africa)
Moab Khotsong Gold Mine is a relatively new mine located near Vaal River, South Africa. It is located about two hours SW of Johannesburg near the town of Klerksdorp. It first started operations in 2003 and is said to be the fourth deepest mine in the world, with an operating mining range between 2.6 to 3.1 kilometres below the surface.
In 2018, the mine produced 162,000 ounces of minerals and still has an estimated gold reserve of 1.16 million ounces.
5. Kidd Creek (Canada)
Kidd Creek Copper and Zinc Mine is the fifth deepest operational mine and the deepest metal mine in the world. This mine is located about 30 minutes north of Timmins, Ontario, Canada.
The mining depth at Kidd creek extends nearly three kilometres below the surface. It started production in 1972 and there is great potential in terms of resources that this mine could potentially offer.
6. La Ronde Gold (Canada)
La Ronde Gold mine is one of the deepest mines in Canada, located in northwest Quebec in the Abitibi region. It has been producing gold since 1988 and is estimated to hold more than three million ounces. Exploratory activities continue as it is expected to be rich in natural resources.
7. South Deep Gold Mine (South Africa)
South Deep Gold Mine is believed to be the seventh deepest mine in the world. Located in South Africa, it extends nearly 2.99 kilometres beneath the surface. The mine is located about 30 minutes southwest of Johannesburg.
8. Lucky Friday Mine (The United States)
Lucky Friday Mine is located in Idaho and contains lead, silver, and zinc. Lucky Friday Mine is the eighth deepest mine in the world with a depth extending 2.6 kilometres. The mine has proven reserves of 5.61 MT of silver, lead, and zinc as of 2018. Recently a fourth shaft was constructed, which has provided access to high-grade mineralized material.
9. Creighton Mine (Canada)
Creighton Mine is the ninth deepest mine in the world. Located in Sudbury, Ontario, it is also the world’s deepest nickel mine with a depth of 2.42 kilometres. It started operations in 1991.
10. Kopanang Gold Mine (South Africa)
Kopanang Gold Mine is located in the Vaal River region in the Free State province of South Africa. It is the 10th deepest mine in the world, with a depth of 1.3 to 2.34 metres. Even though it is only producing low-grade gold, it is speculated to contain gold reserves of at least three million ounces as of 2017.
The mining industry is a crucial part of Canada and South Africa’s economy – not so much in the United States. Because they possess the deepest mines in the world, there is a huge supply available to be extracted, which is beneficial for the country and the global marketplace. So, the next time you have a conversation at a party, you can show off to everyone your extensive knowledge of mines.