Here is a list of the 10 biggest gold mines in the world, based on available 2010 production data.
There are differences of opinion about which one should be ranked No. 1. Some consultants say the world's largest gold mine, by production, is the Muruntau gold mine in Uzbekistan; other consultants say the world's largest gold mine is the Grasberg gold mine in Indonesia. The majority opinion appears to be Grasberg.
There are also differences of opinion about how much some of the mines below actually produce. Occasionally there is difficulty in obtaining yearly production figures. A more common challenge arises because mining production data are not standardized, and not all of the data are calculated using the same calendar.
Further, some figures aggregate production figures from discrete operations within a complex, while other figures break out production data for each discrete operation within a complex. For example, Gold Fields Ltd. operates the Kloof and Drienfontein mines in Guaten Province, which is west of Johannesburg, South Africa, as a single complex that it refers to as KDC. Some rankings of gold mines report annual production from KDC as a single number, while others report annual production from Kloof and Drienfontein separately.
Among the most valuable sources for gold mining production data, besides reports from mining companies themselves, are the Raw Materials Group in Solna, Sweden; Canada's Metals Economics Group in Halifax, Nova Scotia; and Intierra Resource Intelligence, based in Perth, Australia.
The following list draws from each of these sources, as well as others, and thus is not a simple duplication of any one group's rankings.
1. Grasberg Gold Mine -- This mine, which is in the Indonesian province of Papua, produced 2,025,000 ounces of gold, according to the annual report of Rio Tinto Plc. The mine is majority owned by Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. Besides gold, it also produces silver and copper.
2. Muruntau Gold Mine -- This mine, which is about 250 miles west of the capital in Uzbekistan, is believed to have produced approximately 1,800,000 ounces of gold last year. The project, which is an open-pit operation, is run by state-owned Navoi Mining and Metallurgical Combinat.
3. Carlin-Nevada Mine -- This mine, which is in the U.S. state of Nevada, produced 1.735 million ounces in 2010. It is owned by Newmont Mining Corp. It includes both open-pit and underground operations.
4. Yanacocha Gold Mine -- This mine, which is in northern Peru and is the largest gold mine in Latin America, produced 1.46 million ounces last year. It is run by Newmont Mining and owned by Newmont Mining and Buenaventurda, a Peruvian company.
5. Goldstrike (Betze Post) Gold Mine -- This mine, which is northwest of Elko, Nev., produced 1.24 million ounces of gold last year. It is owned by Barrick Gold Corp.
6. Cortez Gold Mine -- This mine, which is southwest of Elko, Nev., produced 1.14 million ounces of gold last year. It is owned by Barrick Gold.
7. Veladero Gold Mine -- This mine, which is in Argentina, produced 1.12 million ounces of gold last year. It is owned by Barrick Gold.
8. Lagunas Norte Gold Mine -- This mine, which is in north-central Peru, produced 808,000 ounces of gold last year. It is owned by Barrick Gold.
9. Lihir Gold Mine -- This mine, which is in Papua New Guineau, produced 790,974 ounces of gold in the 12 months ended June 30. It is owned by Newcrest Mining Ltd., Australia's largest gold producer.
10. Super Pit/Kalgoorlie -- This mine, an open-cut mine in Western Australia, produced 756,000 ounces last year. It is 50-50 owned by Barrick Gold and Newmont Mining.