RANKED: World’s top 10 biggest mines by tonnes of ore mined
Ore is every miner’s paydirt, and the more ore – a natural aggregation of one or more minerals that can be mined, processed, and sold at a profit – the bigger the paycheque.
The number of tonnes extracted from the earth in a day can be vast at the world’s largest mines. It is no coincidence that number one on the list is the world’s biggest copper mine, owned by the world’s biggest mining company, BHP.
The majors are the ones with the means to move the most ore, and all ten companies on our top ten list, compiled with data from our sister company Miningintelligence, are majors or mid-tiers, and eight out of ten on our list are on MINING.com’s list of the world’s top 50 mining companies.
#1 Escondida: Geology: porphyry, supergene copper
In first place is the Escondida copper mine in the world’s biggest producer, Chile, operated by BHP. Rio Tinto, the world’s second-largest miner holds a 30% stake in the mine that churns out a whopping 360,000 tonnes per day on average. Based on production figures for the first three quarters, Escondida is projected to mine 130.78 million tonnes (mt) of copper, silver and gold ore in 2021.
#2 Collahuasi: Geology: porphyry
In second place is Anglo American and Glencore’s jointly owned Collahuasi mine, also in Chile. Projected for the year is 104.65mt of copper, gold and silver ore mined, a big jump from 71.9mt mined in 2020. Check out 21 years of mining at Collahuasi here.
#3 Cobre Panama: Geology: porphyry, supergene copper
Taking third spot is First Quantum Minerals’ Cobre Panama mine, where 96.24mt of copper, silver gold and molybdenum ore is likely to be mined based on reported production figures from the Vancouver-based company’s year-to-end Q3 this year. Cobre Panama alone contributes 3.5% of the country’s gross domestic product, according to government figures.
#4 Buenavista: Geology: porphyry, supergene copper
Fourth place goes to Southern Copper’s Buenavista mine in Mexico, the world’s top silver producer. Southern Copper spent some $1 billion expanding its flagship copper-molybdenum-zinc-silver mine a few years ago.
#5 Las Bambas: Geology: porphyry, skarn
MMG’s Las Bambas mine Peru is fifth place, with 65.26mt of copper, silver gold and molybdenum ore projected for 2021. The mine has faced community opposition this year, as residents living nearby blockaded a key transport route. Communities agreed to lift the road blockade last month, following a public meeting with Prime Minister Mirtha Vasquez.
#6 Sentinel: Geology: porphyry, supergene copper
Sixth spot goes to First Quantum Minerals’ Sentinel copper-nickel cobalt mine in Zambia. The company has shelved plans to sell a stake in its Zambian copper mines, and Sentinel is projected to mine 56.69mt of ore this year.
#7 Aktogay: Geology: porphyry
In seventh place is Kaz Minerals’ Aktogay copper, silver gold and molybdenum mine, where 53.6mt of ore will be mined for the year.
#8 Paracatu: Geology: orogenic gold
Kinross Gold’s Paracatu mine in Brazil is in eighth place, projected to mine 52.46mt of ore this year.
#9 Antamina: Geology: skarn
Antamina copper-lead-zinc-molybdenum-silver mine in Peru comes in at ninth place with a very close 52.45mt of mined ore. Major players have stakes in Antamina: BHP (33.75%), Glencore (33.75%), Teck Resources (22.5%) and Mitsubishi (10%).
#10 Los Bronces: Geology: porphyry
Rounding out the top ten is Anglo American’s Los Bronces copper-molybdenum mine in Chile, with 43.64mt of ore projected to be mined in 2021.
Honourable mentions go to Newcrest’s Tefler copper-gold mine in Australia with 40.26mt of ore projected for this year and Newmont’s Pensaquito gold-silver-lead-zinc mine in Mexico with 38.40mt of ore estimated.
More data is available at Miningintelligence.