The worldwide mining industry is enormous. To conceive of it’s scale, consider this: any natural resources that are not grown–are not agriculture–must be attained via mining. That means clay, gemstones like diamonds, metal of any kind, coal, oil, and more are all acquired by mining. An industry so big it’s almost unfathomable can be expected to produce mines that are equally awe inspiring and to produce them at jaw dropping rates. And the mining industry doesn’t disappoint.
In the United States alone there are nearly 600 thousand abandoned mines. These mines occupy both public and private land; they are what’s left behind when the limited resources within them are used up. Even the world’s most mammoth mines will eventually run out of the ore they harbor, here’s a list of the world’s 7 largest mines, mines so large it’s nearly impossible to believe they won’t yield an eternal supply of precious stones and metals.
Bingham Canyon Mine
The pride of Utah, Bingham Canyon Mine is over 100 years old and holds the world title for deepest open-pit mine made by man. Spanning 2.75 miles from side to side, and dipping 0.75 miles (1200 km) into the earth’s crust, this mine is the largest copper mine in the United States, which doesn’t put it in the running for largest mine in the world by a long shot, but when its depth is taken into account, this mine is truly impressive.
As far as open-pit mines go, Chuquicamata is second in command to the Bingham Canyon Mine. It’s a state owned mine located in Chuquicamata, Chile, and while it’s not quite as deep–900 meters–it’s larger than the Bingham mine and has been producing copper and gold at unfailing rates since it was first opened in 1882.
TauTona “Great Lion” Mine
The worlds unqualified deepest mine since it took the record in 2008, the TauTona mine is located in Carletonville, South Africa, and brags a depth of 3.9 kilometers (2.4 miles). Producing the ever-popular gold since 1962, TauTona is one of three located in the Gold Fields region. It’s so large that a trip from top to bottom can take nearly an hour.
Located in Kiruna, Sweden, the Kiirunavaara mine is the largest and most modern underground mine in the world. Producing over 26 million tons of iron ore each year since 1898. This mine is 2 km (1.2 miles deep).
This Indonesian mine is the largest gold bearing mine in the world and the third largest mine for copper. Considering what we already know about the impressive size of copper and gold mines, that’s no small feat. Since 1973 an impressive 19 thousand workers have been populating the mining sheds surrounding Grasberg, and with that many people it was bound to be a mine with a dramatic history–it was attacked in 1977 by a rebel movement called Free Papua.
Russia’s enormous diamond mine delves 600 meters into the earth. It’s located just outside the Sakha Republic, which is in turn located just outside the arctic circle. Udachnaya means “lucky” in Russian, and miners have to be lucky to withstand the extremely cold climates in the mine’s northeastern location. Unlike some mines, this one won’t be growing any deeper, it’s owners have turned the operation into an underground mine instead of an open pit.
Last, but not least, the Mirny mine is the largest diamond mine of it’s kind, but it’s no longer up and running. Since 2001, this Russian mine has ceased production, but that doesn’t stop the hole in the ground from creating such a dangerous downdraft that a no-fly zone had to be established above it.