Whether any of these deep pits are natural or not, we can’t deny how large and interesting they are! Take a look at these world record-holders:
While there are a lot more than six deep pits on Earth, we will be reviewing the world’s six deepest pits and how they were formed.
1. Bingham Canyon Mine
The largest pit in the world is in Utah! Bingham Canyon Mine is over 100 years old. In 1848, Sanford and Thomas Bingham discovered the massive mineral-filled canyon and extracted the ore. The production was small until the team used open-pit mining techniques to expand through the canyon with tunnels. Miners found placer gold, lead-silver, and copper-gold while working in the mine.
But how large is Bingham Canyon Mine? It is so large that you can see the excavation operations from space! Bingham Canyon Mine is also still operating with a surface area of 1900 acres. It is 2.5 miles wide and incredibly deep. Bingham Canyon Mine reaches 3,969 feet deep, making it the deepest pit in the world!
2. Chuquicamata Copper Mine
The second-deepest pit in the world is the Chuquicamata copper mine, which is located in the Antofagasta Region of Chile. While it is not the deepest pit in the world, it is the largest open pit copper mine by total volume. It sits at an elevation of 9,350 feet and has a maximum depth of 2,790 feet. This open pit is also 2.6 miles wide. Since 1882, workers have mined for copper and gold in the Chuquicamata copper mine.
Even before the 19th century, the Spanish and Incas harvested gold from the mine. Scientists found this out when the ‘Copper Man’ was discovered. This ancient mummy is thought to be from 550 A.D. The Chuquicamata copper mine is nicknamed the Chuqui open pit.
3. Escondida Copper Mine
The Escondida copper mine is the third-deepest pit in the world. You can find it in the Atacama Desert, Chile. It’s still in operation and mainly produces copper, gold, and silver. There are two open pit mines within the large pit; Escondida pit and Escondida Norte pit. The largest is the Escondida pit, with a maximum depth of 2,116.14 feet. The smaller open mine, the Escondida Norte pit, is only 1,722.44 feet deep.
Although the word ‘Escondida’ means hidden, it is not really hidden. Instead, before it was dug up for ores, the ore was hidden hundreds of meters deep. Minera Escondida drilled through a line of copper to excavate for more minerals. Fun fact, the Escondida copper mine is the world’s largest copper mine by volume and production.
4. Udachny Diamond Mine
While most open pits and mines on this list were drilled for minerals like copper, the Udachny mine produces tons of glistening diamonds. It is the fourth-deepest pit in the world, with a maximum depth of 2,066.93 feet. It’s located in the Eastern Siberian Region of Russia. Mining first began only half a century ago in 1971, but the pit was discovered in 1955. It is still in production today. Impressively, the Udachny mine produced ten million carats of diamond for years until 2011.
Even though tons of diamonds have been excavated from the open pit, there is an estimate of 225.8 million carats left in the mine. More attention is being drawn to the underground mine instead of the open pit. Alrosa, the world’s largest diamond mining company, operated the Udachny mine.
5. Muruntau Gold Mine
This man-made deep pit began production on July 21, 1969, but the field was found a decade before (1958). The Muruntau mine is in Uzbekistan and is the largest gold mine in the world. You can find this deep pit in the mountains of Muruntau, southwest of the Kyzylkum Desert. Although it is the largest gold mine, it does not produce the most gold. It is ranked second in gold production after the Grasberg enterprise in Indonesia.
Production continues to increase every year. The Muruntau mine is 2.17 miles long and 1.8 miles wide. The depth of this impressive pit is 2,000 feet. However, the current owners, Uzbekistan’s Navoi Mining and Metallurgical Combinant, plan to dig to a final depth of 2,132.55 feet before switching to an underground mining process. If they reach this maximum depth, the Muruntau mine may become the third-deepest pit in the world.
6. Fimiston Open Pit Gold Mine
Last but not least, we have the Fimiston Open Pit. It is the sixth-deepest pit in the world, with a depth of 2,000 feet. It is also known as the Super Pit and is situated in Western Australia. For the longest time, it was the country’s largest producer of gold but was beaten by the Newmont Boddington gold mine. The 1,100 employees aid the pit in producing over 456,000 troy ounces (14.2 t) of gold every year.
The Fimiston Open Pit was first created in 1989 by Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines. Despite slowdowns in 2020 and 2021, the Fimiston Open Pit produced 472,089 ounces of gold. The pit is 2.4 miles long and about 1 mile wide.
Summary of the World’s 6 Deepest Pits
|Rank||Pit||Depth in Feet||Location|
|1||Bingham Canyon Mine||3,969||Utah|
|2||Chuquicamata Copper Mine||2,790||Chile|
|3||Escondida Copper Mine||2,116||Chile|
|4||Udachny Diamond Mine||2,066||Russia|
|6||Fimiston Open Pit||2,000||Australia|
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/bohemia8
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