Muruntau mine in Uzbekistan was the world’s largest gold mine by production in 2019. Five out of ten largest gold mines are owned / co-owned by Barrick.
Over the past month, Mines and Metals created a series of stories covering largest gold mining operations in different regions, including Canada, Australia, West Africa, Russia, South America. Now it is a good time to look at the holistic picture and identify the true gold behemoths worldwide.
Below is an overview of the top 10 largest gold mines in the world developed by Mines and Metals on the basis of 2019 production figures and our in-depth knowledge of gold industry.
Due to numerous mergers, acquisitions, consolidations and development strategies changes occurred across the gold mining industry over the past year, this list underwent some noticeable changes compared to 2018 version.
The iconic Grasberg mine in Indonesia that regained the crown as the world’s biggest gold mining operation in terms of output in 2018, is now hanging on the brink of leaving the top ten list.
Mined since the 1970s by US-based Freeport McMoran, the Grasberg mining complex is transitioning to an underground operation with planned return to full production set for 2022. Therefore, Grasberg won’t top the rankings again any time soon.
On July 1, 2019, Barrick’s Goldstrike and Cortez and Newmont’s Carlin were contributed to Nevada Gold Mines and that consolidation created two new reporting entities that have no comparative numbers for 2018.
As usual, we took very conservative approach when estimated gold output at world’s largest Muruntau gold mine in Uzbekistan due to the fact that precise numbers for this state-owned mine are not being disclosed.
Here’s the 2019 ranking developed by Mines and Metals.
Top 10 Biggest Gold Mines in 2019
The Muruntau mining complex, located in Uzbekistan and consisting of open-pit mine and heap leach operations, is estimated to have produced slightly more than 2 million ounces of gold in 2019. Operated by state-owned Navoi Mining and Metallurgical Combinat, the mine is more than 3.3km long, 2.5km wide nearly 600m deep. Considering the stunning resource base, estimated in excess of 150m ounces, Muruntau will likely keep its ranking as world’s biggest gold mine.
Located in one of Russia’s most prolific gold mining provinces, gigantic Olimpiada mine is Polyus’ largest operation. The mine began production in 1996 and currently accounts for over a half the Moscow-based company’s total gold output. The ore mined at the site is processed at three plants with a combined capacity of 13 million tonnes of ore annually. Olimpiada produced 1.389 million ounces of gold in 2019, a 5% increase over the prior year.
On July 1, 2019, Barrick’s Goldstrike (including 60% share of South Arturo) and Newmont’s Carlin were contributed to Nevada Gold Mines and are now referred to as Carlin. This gigantic integrated operation located west of the city of Elko on the geologic feature known as the Carlin Trend. Stretching 56km (35mi), the Carlin Trend was first prospected by Newmont geologists John Livermore and Alan Coope in 1965. According to Barrick, Carlin produced 1.315 million ounces of gold in 2019.
4. Pueblo Viejo
The Pueblo Viejo mine in the Dominican Republic is about 100 km northwest of the capital city of Santo Domingo. The mine is operated by the Pueblo Viejo Dominicana Corporation — a joint venture between Barrick (60%) and Newmont Goldcorp (40%). The Pueblo Viejo mine produced 0.983 million ounces of gold in 2019.
Cortez Gold Mine is a large gold mining and processing facility in Lander and Eureka County, Nevada, United States, located approximately 75 miles (120 km) southwest of Elko and comprises the Pipeline and South Pipeline deposits and the Cortez Hills deposit. Pipeline and South Pipeline are open pit mines, while Cortez Hills is an underground and open pit mining operation. On July 1, 2019, Cortez was contributed to Nevada Gold Mines, a joint venture between Barrick and Newmont Corporation. According to Barrick, Cortez produced 0.963 million ounces of gold in 2019.
Newcrest’s Lihir operation on Aniolam Island in the New Ireland Province of Papua New Guinea is 900 kilometres north-east of the capital Port Moresby. The gold deposit at Lihir is within the Luise Caldera, an extinct volcanic crater that is geothermally active. The Lihir mine produced 0.881 million ounces of gold in 2019, a 10% decline compared to 2018.
7. Cadia East
Newcrest’s Cadia is made up of the Cadia East underground panel cave mine and the Ridgeway underground mine (currently in care and maintenance). Cadia East is the biggest gold mine in Australia. Cadia’s 16% y-o-y gold production growth was predominantly driven by increased mill utilization and higher gold head grades reflecting an increased proportion of higher grade ore feed. Cadia East mine produced 0.871 million ounces of gold in 2019, a 16% more than last year.
Freeport-McMoRan’s Grasberg copper-gold complex in the Indonesian province of Papua produced 0.863 million ounces of gold in 2019, or 68% less than in 2018. This expected decline plunged Grasberg from first in ranking of biggest gold mines in 2018, to being just eighth in 2019. The original deposit was discovered in 1936 by a Dutch geologist who called it Ertsberg or “ore mountain”. The mine, which provides work for 30,000 people, is located 4,100m above sea level near Puncak Jaya, the highest mountain in Papua. Production of gold hit a peak in 2001 above 3.5m ounces.
Kibali mine in Democratic Republic of Congo is situated adjacent to the town of Doko and 210km from Arua on the Ugandan border. Kibali is co-owned by AngloGold Ashanti (45%), Barrick Gold Corporation (45%) following its merger with Randgold Resources, and Société Minière de Kilo-Moto (SOKIMO) (10%), a state-owned gold mining company. Kibali produced 0.813 million ounces of gold in 2019.
Barrick’s Loulo-Gounkoto complex comprises two distinct mining permits, Loulo and Gounkoto, and is situated in western Mali, bordering Senegal and adjacent to the Falémé River. Société des Mines de Loulo SA (Loulo) owns the Loulo gold mine, and Société des Mines de Gounkoto (Gounkoto) owns the Gounkoto gold mine. Both Loulo and Gounkoto are owned by Barrick (80%), and the State of Mali (20%). Loulo-Gounkoto produced 0.715 million ounces of gold in 2019.
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