Canadian Mining Journal


PERSPECTIVE: Ranking the world’s gold mines and deposits

The idea of knowing how many ounces of gold exist in situ, or how many gold mines there are in Canada, or how rare are deposits with more than a million ounces is fascinating. Now along comes Natural Resource Holdings of Toronto with all that...

The idea of knowing how many ounces of gold exist in situ, or how many gold mines there are in Canada, or how rare are deposits with more than a million ounces is fascinating. Now along comes Natural Resource Holdings of Toronto with all that information and more.

For the second year, NRH has pored over public filings from around the world. The information was examined, sifted and compared to highlight trends in future mine supply, depletion, discoveries and in situ grades. The ensuing report makes interesting reading.

NRH said it has identified 439 gold deposits around the globe each of which contain over 1 million oz of gold. The 189 producing gold mines operate with an average grade of 1.06 g/t Au, and the world’s undeveloped deposits have an average grade of 0.66 g/t Au.

The report also ranks the top 50 producing mines by in situ resources. Unsurprisingly Freeport McMoRan’s Grasberg mine in Indonesia holds top spot among producers with 88.1 million oz. Well behind is the No.2 Lihir mine (56.0 million oz) owned by Newcrest in Papua New Guinea.

The first mine in Canada that made the list is No.31, the Canadian Malartic mine (13.4 million oz) owned and operated by Osisko Mining of Montreal. The other Canadian mine that made the top 50 was Goldcorp’s Porcupine operation (11.9 million oz) near Timmins, ON.

The list of 50 largest undeveloped gold deposits has more Canadian names on it. After the Pebble deposit (107.3 million oz) of Northern Dynasty Minerals and Anglo American, is Seabridge Gold’s KSM deposit (64.0 million oz). In sixth spot is the Snowfield deposit (35.0 million oz) belonging to Pretium Resources, and in tenth place is the Detour Lake deposit (29.1 million oz) currently under development by Detour Lake Gold. Pretium also owns the No.19 Brucejack deposit (17.1 million oz). The Courageous Lake deposit (11.4 million oz) of Seabridge Gold is No.23, the Galore Creek project (10.7 million oz) belonging to NovaGold and Teck Resources is No.26, and the Hammond Reef deposit (10.5 million oz) of Osisko is No.27.

The remainder of the top 50 deposits list has eight Canadian names: No.37 Newgold’s Blackwater (8.6 million oz),  No.38 Western Copper’s Casino (8.3 million oz),  No.40 Taseko Mines’ Prosperity (7.7 million oz), No.43 Goldcorp’s Eleanor (7.7 million oz), No.44 Thompson Creek Metals’ Mount Milligan (7.5 million oz), No.46 Agnico-Eagle Mines’ Meliadine (7.0 million oz), No.48 IamGold’s Cote Lake (6.9 million oz), and No.49 Rainy River Resources’ Rainy River deposit (6.7 million oz).

Someone might create another list of Canadian-owned companies and add up the ounces of gold under their control around the world. That would be an interesting number.

The NRH report looks at the numbers many different ways. There is a top 50 list by grade, both for producing mines and undeveloped deposits. Another list includes the top 25 mines and deposits in the United States and Canada. There are separate top 25 lists for Latin America and Asia-Oceania. Canada is second behind South Africa on the list of top 10 countries by grade, and Canada tops the list of countries with the most deposits containing more than 1 million oz.

This report is excellent reading no matter how the user wishes to look at the global gold mine sector. From the huge Pebble deposit (107.3 million oz) to the last one on the list, Mount Rawdon (1.0 million oz), there is something hidden in the numbers for everyone.

The report is free, courtesy of National Resource Holdings and may be downloaded from

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2 Comments » for PERSPECTIVE: Ranking the world’s gold mines and deposits
  1. Doug Panagapko says:

    From statistics collected by surveys conducted by Natural Rsources Canada, gold production Canada in 2011 was 98.165 tonnes. 2010 and 2009 production was 102.146 t and 96.573 t, respectively. I believe the statistics in the USGS mineral commodity summary publication are an estimate for Canada. Our gold output decreased slightly from 2010 due to reduced production at some mines. We expect that in the coming years, our production will increase as some new, large mines reach commercial production.

    I attach the latest production data for Canada, for your information.


    Doug Panagapko
    Senior Industry Specialist- Gold, Lead and Zinc
    Spécialiste principal de l’industrie – or, plomb et zinc
    Minerals and Metals Sector/
    Secteur des minéraux et des métaux
    Natural Resources Canada/ Ressources naturelles Canada
    580 Booth Street/580, rue Booth
    Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0E4

  2. southpen says:

    I remember being stunned, when first reading about the Pebble Deposit. I didn’t think it possible ,that such a huge resource of gold and copper was still untouched,in mining friendly Alaska, of all places.

    Then I started understanding the drawbacks, to what seemed like a great investment.The grade was very low and it’s proximity to the natural phenomenon of the fisheries was evident.I called the company several times hoping that they could give me something that would restore my anticipation of being a shareholder ,in the World’s biggest deposit.It never happened.

    To their credit ,they didn’t lie .They were not always anxious to confirm details, that would ultimately challenge the possibilities of a green light.

    Nothing lost , but nothing gained. How many more of the great deposits will never see production? I think ,if they have anything, extremely negative concerning the environment of the region they are in,you can pretty much shelve the project , for your lifetime.Right or Wrong ,it’s best to invest with that in mind.

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