Top 10 largest gold mines
This September, gold prices surged to the highest in a year at $1,340 – but where can the largest amounts of gold be found around the world? We rate the top gold mines based on their deposits…
10 | Grasberg in Papua, Indonesia
Owned by Freeport McMoRan with a large sharing arrangement with Rio Tinto, this gold mine contains a deposit of over 106.2mn ounces of gold.
In 2016, the mine produced more than one million ounces of gold, making it the fourth largest gold producer that year. The gold deposits on Mount Carstensz were first discovered by a Dutch geologist in 1936 following the implementation of foreign investment laws in 1967, with the Grasberg mine opened officially in 1973.
In February 2017, however, Freeport McMoRan announced that it was temporarily halting mining operations at Grasberg – which is also the third largest copper mine in the world – following a failure to reach an agreement with the Indonesian government on long-term investment plans.
9 | South Deep near Johannesburg, South Africa
Located near the eighth largest gold mine in the world, South Deep contains an estimated 81.4mn ounces of gold and mining began at South Deep in 1961; Gold Fields Limited acquired the mining operations in 2006.
At almost 3,000 meters below the surface, South Deep also ranks seventh on the list of deepest mines in the world and produced 290,000 ounces of gold in 2016; a 47% increase in production over the previous year. Gold Fields expects to increase gold production to 500,000 ounces per year by 2023.
8 | Lihir on Niolam Island, Papua New Guinea
Located inside an extinct volcano crater, Lihir is projected to contain 64.1mn ounces of gold and gold production at this expansive open pit mine started in 1997. The mine is currently owned by Newcrest, an Australian company that acquired it for US$22bn in 2010.
Lihir produced over 900,000 ounces of gold in fiscal year 2016, making it the sixth biggest gold producing mine in the world. The mine has had a total output of over 10mn ounces since production began 20 years ago.
7 | Muruntau in Kyzyl Kum Desert, Uzbekistan
The fourth largest gold mine in the world by deposit size, with approximately 50mn ounces of gold, Muruntau is also the biggest open-pit gold mine in the world. This sizeable mine is owned by the government of Uzbekistan. After the gigantic gold deposit was discovered in 1958, systematic mining began in 1967 and has been ongoing since. With approximately 2.2mn ounces of gold produced last year, Muruntau ranks as the world's largest gold producing mine, although these figures are clouded slightly by the Uzbek government's reluctance to share information.
6 | Olimpiada in Centra Siberia, Russia
Nestled in Russia's most productive gold mining region, Olimpiada is estimated to have 47.5mn ounces of gold. The gold deposits at Olimpiada were first discovered in 1970, with open-pit mining commencing 26 years later.
Olimpiada forms the largest operation of Polyus, Russia's largest gold producer. In 2016, it produced more than 943,000 ounces of gold, up almost 18% over the previous year.
5 | Oyu Tolgoi in the South Gobi Desert, Mongolia
Jointly owned by Turquoise Hill (a Rio Tinto-owned subsidiary) and the Mongolian government, Oyu Tolgoi is projected to contain 46.3mn ounces of gold. Oyu Tolgoi is one of the most recently-developed gold mines on this list. The deposits were discovered in 2001, and construction on the mine began in 2010; the first shipment came in 2013.
While Oyu Tolgoi's gold deposits are impressive, its copper deposits are significantly larger at 40bn pounds. Gold production reached 300,000 ounces in 2016, with Turquoise Hill projecting a smaller output of between 100,000 and 140,000 ounces in 2017.
4 | Pueblo Viejo in Sánchez Ramírez Province, the Dominican Republic
Located 100km from the Dominican Republic's capital of Santo Domingo, Pueblo Viejo contains approximately 40.1 million ounces of gold deposits. Owned jointly by Barrick Gold Corporation (60%) and Goldcorp Inc. (40%), Pueblo Viejo's production began in 2012, with the mine reaching full production by 2014.
Pueblo Viejo's gold output is impressive: at 953,000 ounces of gold produced in 2016. It achieved the position of second largest gold producer in the world that year and has experienced almost 23% year-over-year growth.
3 | Mponeng near Johannesburg, South Africa
At a distance of 65km from Johannesburg, in the mining-heavy region of Witwatersrand, Mponeng is projected to contain gold deposits of 39.6mn ounces. This large mine is owned by major South African mining company AngloGold Ashanti and construction there began in 1981, with the main shaft reaching completion in 1986.
At 2.5 miles deep, Mponeng is also the world's deepest mine with a 2016 output of 253,000 ounces of gold. Production at Mponeng has been in decline for over a decade, down from a previous high of 600,000 ounces per year.
2 | Cadia East in New South Wales, Australia
Located around 250km to the west of Sydney, Cadia East is the largest and newest in a complex of three gold mines owned by Australian mining company Newcrest, boasting a projected 37.6 million ounces of gold deposits. Though discovered in 1994, production did not actually begin until January 2013.
Cadia East also stands as Australia's largest underground mine and its first panel cave mine. Gold production in the fiscal year 2016 reached almost 669,000 ounces, with a projected lifespan for the mine extending until at least 2043.
1 | Obuasi in the Ashanti Region, Ghana
Located in southwest Ghana's prolific gold producing Ashanti region, Obuasi contains an estimated 29.8mn ounces in gold deposits. This unique mine combines primarily underground mining with some open-pit operations. Obuasi stands as the oldest working mine on this list, having opened in 1897 as the Ashanti Mine.
Despite its size, AngloGold Ashanti closed operations at the mine in 2014 based on profitability concerns with only a small security force remaining on site; the company is currently at work on a development plan for the future. The most recent available production figures date to 2009, when Obuasi produced approximately 381,000 ounces of gold.