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Digging up the world’s top five largest mining projects

Here is an overview of some of the largest mining projects currently in operation, producing the world’s minerals in high demand


The Zambeze Coal Mine
Located in north-western Mozambique, in the Changara district, the Zambeze coal mine covers more than 24,740 hectares, earning its rank as one of the world’s largest undeveloped coking coal projects. Riversdale Mining owns the property, which has helped to establish itself as one of the leading suppliers among the Brazilian and Indian steel industries. In June of 2010, the company entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Chinese steelmaker, Wuhan Iron and Steel Corporation (WISCO), which will invest $800 million to collaboratively develop the project. The total value of the project is estimated to be $2 billion.

As of May 2010, nine billion tons of coal reserves are estimated to exist within the Zambeze Coal Mine. The resource is a blend of hard coking coal and a fraction of secondary thermal coal.

A drilling program, consisting of 150 boreholes and extending 50,000 meters, has recently been finalized. Experts are studying the quality of the coal being extracted from the drilling. Currently, the drilling of a large-diameter core infilling is underway.

The Minto Copper-Gold Mine Located within the Whitehorse Mining division in the Yukon Territory, the Minto Copper-Gold mine began operating in October of 2007 and currently operates as an open-pit mine. Minto Explorations Ltd, a subsidiary of Capstone Mining Corp, has owned the property since June 2005. Since its acquisition, six new resources have been realized near the primary resource, including Area 2, Area 118, Copper Keel, Ridgetop, Minto East and Minto North.

In 2009, the mine generated a total of 51.9 million pounds of payable copper. The resource continues to see considerable growth. After two phases of expansion, the mine operates at a capacity of 3,200 tons-per-day. The company is considering executing a four-phase expansion, which would increase the throughput capacity to 4,100 tons-per-day.

The Marampa Mine
London Mining currently owns 100 percent of the West African brownfield haematite iron-ore mine. Situated around 150 kilometers northeast of Freetown, Sierra Leone, the project was previously mined by the Development Corporation of Sierra Leone (DELCO). The project exploration license covers 319 square kilometers. Due to low iron-ore prices, the mine was closed in the 1960s, following its peak production of 2.5 million tons annually. Two primary deposits make up the Marampa mine, including Masaboin Hill and Ghafal.

The mine re-opened in 2006, when it was acquired by London Mining. The project began full-development in February of 2010, upon receiving necessary approvals. The goal for production is to reach 1.5 million tons annually. A pre-feasibility study is expected to be complete at the end of 2010 to determine plans for expansion, including tailings reprocessing development.

As of the end of 2009, a total of 2,700 meters had been drilled on its primary ore deposits. The company intends to drill an additional 6,000 meters throughout 2010.

The Coppabella Mine
This Australian open-cut mine, in operation since 1998, is comprised of four pits, including: Creek, Johnson, East Pits and South. Macarthur Coal has owned and maintained mine activities since June of 2008. In 2009, 2.4 million tons of coal and 2.9 million tons of run-of-mine (ROM) were generated.
CHPP capacity is currently 850 tons-per-hour, which results in an annual throughput capacity of 6 million tons of raw coal. The coal is continually examined and monitored to ensure that quality specifications are met.

Upon completion of mining activities in an area, the site will be repurposed, with removed overburden and topsoil being fertilized, and seeded, for trees and grass to grow.

The White Dam Gold Mine
Located 80 kilometers west of Broken Hill, South Australia, this open-pit mine produced its first gold in April of 2010. In addition to the open-pit mine, the project also includes a dump-heap leach and a gold-extraction plant. Exco Resources holds 75 percent interest in the mine, along with Polymetals Australia, which holds the remaining 25 percent. Polymetals is responsible for managing and operating the mine.

In June of 2010, mine production exceeded its anticipated annual production rate by generating a total of 6,171 ounces of gold. Over the course of the mine’s life, it is expected to deliver a total of 120,000 ounces of gold.

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