The Deepest Mine in the World

The movies would have us believe that mines are nothing more than holes in the ground held together by old wooden beams and rickety tracks, but nothing could be further from the truth. The world’s deepest mines are staggeringly complex feats of engineering. So, where is the deepest mine in the world and how far into the Earth does it go? Read on to find out.

Building Big Building Big Engineering
7 June 2022

Even if you stacked eleven copies of the world’s tallest hotel on top of one another, you still wouldn’t reach the incredible depths of the deepest gold mine in the world. These magnificent mining masterpieces need to be seen to be believed!

For the purposes of this article, we are only including operational mines and, for clarity, the measurements we include are from the mine’s entrance to the deepest excavated point. Here are the deepest mines in the world.

Jwaneng Mine | Kalahari Desert, Botswana

The processing plant at Jwaneng, the richest diamond mine in the world (Photo: Per-Anders Pettersson via Getty Images)

Diamond | 625 metres deep

Translated as ‘the place of small stones’, Jwaneng is an open-pit mine that opened in 1982. In 2020, the mine produced almost 19,000 carats of diamond. Scientists believe there is enough ore in the ground to continue operations until around 2035.

Shakhterskaya Mine | Donbas, Ukraine

Coal | 1,546 metres deep

The world’s deepest coal mine is the Shakhterskaya mine in the Donbas region of southeastern Ukraine, which opened in 1986. Ukraine is one of the world’s major coal mining nations and in 2020 produced 24.1 million tonnes. It is one of the country’s most important industries and employs around 500,000 people.

Creighton Mine | Ontario, Canada

After taking an elevator down 2000m, SNOLAB employees and visitors walk 1.4kms through Vale Creighton mine en route to the lab (Photo: Randy Risling via Getty Images)

Nickel & Copper | 2,390 metres deep

Canada’s deepest nickel mine, and one of the deepest mines in the world, the Creighton Mine started operations in 1901 as an open-pit mine. It went fully underground in 1908. In 2019, the mine excavated over 6.1 million tonnes of ore and has the distinction of having the western hemisphere’s deepest continuous mine shaft (Number 9) at an incredible 2,175 metres.

South Deep Mine | Gauteng, South Africa

Gold & Uranium | 2,995 metres deep

With an estimated mine life of 75 years, South Deep in the Witwatersrand Basin in the north-east of the country is not quite the deepest gold mine in the world but it’s close. It has estimated reserves of over 900 tonnes of gold and 17,000 tonnes of uranium.

Kloof Gold Mine | Gauteng, South Africa

Two miners excavating gold at the Kloof Gold Mine near Carltonville (Photo: Tom Stoddart via Getty Images)

Gold | 3,347 metres deep

Another mine in the mineral-rich northeastern region of South Africa, Kloof can trace its history back to the late nineteenth century. Today’s vast operation was the result of a merger between mining operations at Ventersdorp, Libanon and Leeudoorn. In 2020 the mine produced almost ten tonnes of gold and geologists believe the mine contains a further 932 tonnes of gold before it runs dry.

Driefontein Mine | Gauteng, South Africa

Gold | 3,420 metres deep

Located 60km southwest of Johannesburg, Driefontein is not only one of the deepest mines in the world it’s also one of the biggest, with eight shafts and fifty levels. Established in 1952, the mine also holds one of South Africa’s largest uranium reserves.

Savuka Mine | Gauteng, South Africa

Gold | 3,700 metres deep

Savuka means ‘wake up’ in Zulu and – like the deepest mine in the world and the pretenders to its throne – it is located in the Witwatersrand Basin, described as ‘the most significant gold depository in the history of mining.’ It opened in 1962, has a staggering 800km of tunnels and employs around 5,600 gold miners. It is believed however, that the mine is coming to the end of its natural life. Savuka is so deep that temperatures can hit a life-threatening 60°C (although air-conditioning takes it down to a just about manageable 28°C). For some of the miners working in the deepest and furthest sections of the mine, even the journey to the rock face can take as much as one hour.

Mponeng Mine | Gauteng, South Africa

Gold | 4,000 metres deep

Over four kilometres below the surface, Mponeng, meaning ‘look at me’ in Sotho, is the deepest gold mine in the world. In 2018, the mine produced almost eight tonnes of gold and they excavate over 6,000 tonnes of rock every day using two tonnes of explosives. At the deepest depths of the Mponeng mine, temperatures reach a staggering 60°C, requiring 6,000 tonnes of ice slurry to be pumped into underground reservoirs to push cold air around and keep conditions manageable.

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