For those with a taste for trivia, here is a link to a site that lists the biggest mine open pits and the deepest mine shafts. They also have some great photos of the pits and shafts. Well worth the click to see all this and to add to your store of “general knowledge about mining.”
I am surprised by how many I have seen, including:
- The Big Hole in Kimberly, South Africa – first as a student and later as a consultant on the design of a new slimes dam.
- The Bingham Canyon Pit in Utah - although only from a plane landing at Salt Lake City.
- The Berkley Pit, Montana - from the visitors’ viewing platform.
- Chiquicamata, Chile – on one of those long trips north from Santiago.
- TanTona, Carletonville, South Africa – not sure what it was called when I was there, but there are so many deep shaft along the Witwatersrand that they all blur together.
The obvious comment is: so what? Mines are often big and deep. It is all about scale. Why open a small mine to exploit a marginal deposit? Why leave society with perpetual water treatment for a mere ten years or so of employment?
I know that every Junior wants to prove their deposit, sell to a Mid-Level, who wants to bring it to OK-status and sell to a Major. But do we need to open every ore body? Do we need a mine everywhere there is ore?
Maybe the big mines are the way to go. Of course they impact the environment–but to great benefit to so many. Maybe we should go for the rich deposits in dry places where there is the possibility of 100 years and more of mining.