1.South Deep gold mine – 32.8 million ounces (Moz)
South Deep gold mine is the largest gold mine in the world, by reserves. Located 45km south-west of Johannesburg in the Witwatersrand Basin, South Africa, South Deep is also the seventh deepest mine in the world, with a mine depth up to 2,998m below the surface. The managed mineral reserve at South Deep as of December 2018 stood at 32.8Moz.
South Deep was known by the name Western Areas Gold Mine until 2000. Mining operations at the site were started in 1961. Goldfields became the owner and operator of the South Deep gold mine in 2006. The underground gold mine is operated through two shaft systems, known as the South Shaft complex and the Twin Shaft complex.
South Deep produced 157,100oz of gold in 2018, compared to 281,300oz in 2017. The mine life of South Deep is expected to be extended up to 2092.
2. Grasberg gold mine – 30.2Moz
Grasberg gold mine in the Papua province of Indonesia was discovered in 1988. The Grasberg mining operation consists of the Grasberg open-pit and four underground mines, namely DOZ, DMLZ, Big Gossan, and Grasberg Block Cave (GBC). It also includes an undeveloped ore body named Kucing Liar.
The mine is operated by Freeport Indonesia (PTFI), a subsidiary of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX). PTFI owns 90.64% of the Grasberg mining operation, while the rest (9.36%) is owned by the Government of Indonesia.
The open-pit operation started in 1990 and was expected to be completed by the end of 2019. Ore production at the GBC underground mine started in the third quarter of 2019. Ongoing expansions at the mine are expected to ramp up the production to 240,000t per day by 2022. The mine produced 2.69 million ounces (Moz) of gold in 2018, milling 178,100t of ore a day.
3. Olimpiada gold mine – 26Moz
Olimpiada gold mine, located in the Krasnoyarsk region of Eastern Siberia, Russia, is owned and operated by Polyus Gold. The mine had proven and probable reserve is estimated at 26Moz (281Mt grading 2.88g/t gold) as of December 2018.
It employs a conventional open-pit method with the use of shovel and truck. The extracted ore is processed at two nearby plants with a combined annual capacity of 13 million tonnes. First production at Olimpiada gold mine occurred in 1996. The mine produced 1.3Moz of gold in 2018. It was transitioned to autonomous machine operation in January 2019.
4. Lihir gold mine – 24Moz
Lihir gold mine, located 900km north-east of Port Moresby in the New Ireland Province of Papua New Guinea (PNG), has been in production since 1997. It is owned and operated by Lihir Gold Limited (LGL), which was merged with Newcrest Mining in August 2010. Newcrest Mining currently owns and operates the Lihir gold mine. Lihir mine had in-situ gold reserves of 24Moz (330Mt grading 2.3g/t gold) as of December 2018
Most of the ore extracted from Lihir is treated through pressure oxidation and conventional leaching. The mine produced 933,000oz of gold in the financial year ending June 2019. Newcrest completed a prefeasibility study for the Lihir pit optimisation in February 2016. The mine is expected to produce 1Moz of gold in 2020.
5. Norte Abierto gold mine – 23.2Moz
The Norte Abierto gold mine, which is yet to commence production, is located in the Atacama Region of Chile. Norte Abierto, a 50:50 joint venture between Barrick Gold and Newmont Goldcorp, is developing the mine as an open-pit project.
The mine was estimated to contain 23.2Moz of proven and probable gold reserves as of December 2018.Two deposits named Cerro Casale and Caspiche that are located at a distance of 12km from each other, within the Maricunga Gold Belt of northern Chile, will be mined as part of the project.
According to mining-technology.com