7 Of The Most Impressive Open-Pit Mines In The World


hese huge open-pit mines around the world all break different records and have been importan...

Vicki Codd

By Vicki Codd

hese huge open-pit mines around the world all break different records and have been important in their respective country's mining histories. Here are some of the most impressive open pit mines in the world.


Based in the Sakha Republic in Russia, the mine was built in 1957 and is the second largest man-made pit in the world. It is so big that it has a no-fly zone around it due to the downdraft it creates!

The mine was closed in 2011, but when it was operational it was notorious for the extreme conditions where temperatures dropped in winter enough to cause rubber and steel to shatter. It produced 10 million carats of diamond per year.

Bingham Canyon

The Bingham Canyon Mine, also known as the Kennecott Copper Mine, is in the US state of Utah. Originally discovered by Mormon pioneers in the 1800s, it is the deepest open pit mine in the world at over 1.2km deep and covering an area of 7.7 square kilometres (visible from outer-space).

The mine is still operational and is owned by Rio Tinto, creating around 2,400 mining jobs.


The second largest open pit gold mine in Australia, the Kalgoorie Super Pit was built in 1989 after several underground mines were consolidated into one.

The mine measures 3.5km long by 1.5km wide and is over 600 meters deep, producing 850,000 ounces of gold a year and employing around 1,100 people.


Although not as big as the Mirny Mine in Russia, this Canadian mine still produces 7 million carats of diamonds per year and employs roughly 1,000 people. Commercial production began in 2003 and the mine is expected to be operational for up to 22 years.

The mine generates some incredible photos as it is located on an island in the middle of a lake (Lac de Gras) in the Northwest Territories. Consequently, it is accessible by road 2 months of the year.


When a Dutch expedition set out in the 1930s to climb the peaks of the East Indies, they discovered gold and copper on an Indonesian mountain in the province of Papua.

The resulting mine that was set up was called Ertsberg. It was 4,100 meters above sea-level and went $55m above budget due to the precarious position. However, when the area’s surroundings were explored further, $40bn worth of copper reserves were found and the Grasberg mine was established, which now dwarfs the original mine.

The mine is predominantly a copper mine with 2.8 billion tonnes of proven and probable reserve, but also contains gold and silver reserves.


Also known as ‘The Big Hole’, the South African diamond mine is the largest open pit mine that was excavated by hand between 1871 and 1914 by 50,000 miners. The hole has a depth of 240 meters and is 463 meters wide.

The site is important in diamond mining history, as Cecil Rhodes, founder of De Beers, has a strong link with the mine and the city of Kimberley, creating numerous jobs in the area over the years.


The Chuquicamata Mine is one of the largest open pit copper mines in the world by volume and the second deepest open pit mine in the world at 850 meters. The site is located in the north of Chile.

The mine has been in operation since 1910 and is now owned by Codelco, a state owned company since the Chilean nationalisation of copper mining.

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