The 5 most amazing open pit mines on earth

If there’s one thing we all know about mining, you’ve got to go big or go home.  We’ve put together this list of our picks for 5 mining operations that sure did go big, very very big.  From the icy frozen slopes of the Udachnaya Diamond mine in Russia to the sun baked Big Hole in South Africa, read on and prepare to be amazed…

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Cortez Gold Mine - Nevada

Cortez Gold Mine is a large gold mining and processing facility in Lander and Eureka County, Nevada, United States, located approximately 75 miles (120 km) southwest of Elko. It is owned and operated by Barrick Gold and comprises the Pipeline and South Pipeline deposits and the Cortez Hills deposit. Pipeline and South Pipeline are open pit mines, while Cortez Hills is an underground and open pit mining operation. Under continuous operation, Cortez has been open longer than any gold mine in the state of Nevada.It is Barrick's and Nevada's largest gold producer.

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Cueva de los Cristales (The Cave of Crystals)

Nearly 1,000 feet (305 meters) beneath Mexico's Naica silver mine you'll find a chamber of unearthly wonder. Here in Cueva de los Cristales (the Cave of Crystals), 36-foot (11-meter) obelisks of solid crystal lay heaped about like fallen pillars in a dilapidated temple.

This subterranean forest of wonders boasts the largest known gypsums (soft minerals made of hydrate calcium sulfate) on Earth. For roughly half a million years, the hidden chamber was nothing short of a crystal incubator. For starters, nearby magma deposits heat the cavern to temperatures of up to 112 degrees Fahrenheit (44 degrees Celsius). And to top things off, the entire space was flooded with mineral-rich waters up until very recently.

The chamber was discovered in 2000, after mining operations pumped it dry. Today, only a few visitors risk heatstroke to witness the crystals' beauty firsthand.

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Kalgoorlie Super Pit - Western Australia

The Super Pit is an open-cut gold mine approximately 3.6 kilometres (2.2 mi) long, 1.6 kilometres (1.0 mi) wide and 512 metres (1,680 ft) deep. It was created by Alan Bond, who bought up a number of old mining leases in order to get the land area needed for the Super Pit. Occasionally the excavating has revealed an old shaft containing abandoned equipment and vehicles from the earlier mines.

The mine operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and a visitor centre overlooks it. The mine blasts at 1:00 pm every day, unless winds would carry dust over the town. Each of the massive trucks carries 225 tonnes of rock and the round trip takes about 35 minutes, most of that time being the slow uphill haul. Employees must live in Kalgoorlie; it is not a fly-in fly-out operation. The mine is expected to be productive until about 2029.

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