The world’s hardest working gold mines – by Frik Els ( – November 3, 2016)

Gold’s stellar run this year has not only breathed new life into the exploration sector, but prompted producing mines to maximize output to make the most of higher prices.

It takes years to get a new mine into operation, expansion projects are not completed in a few months and reviving mines under care and maintenance is not a quick task. But confidence in gold’s prospects, planning, timing (and a healthy dose of luck) meant that the mines on our list hit their stride just as gold was entering an upswing.

The list below is based on a compilation from the GFMS team at Thomson Reuters plus data provided by’s sister company IntelligenceMine. The ranking compares gold ounces produced (not gold-equivalent ounces) by existing and new mines during the first six months of 2016 with the same period last year (Q3 production figures were not available for all the mines).

1. Cortez – Nevada, US

Barrick Gold’s 100%-owned Cortez isn’t the world’s number one gold producer’s largest mine. That honour goes to the nearby Goldstrike complex exploiting the same Carlin-type deposit. But during the first half of the year, Barrick extracted 495koz, 52% more than the same period last year from the open-pit and underground heap leach operation.

The open pit operations have a daily movement capacity of 400kt and annual output could top 1m ounces for the first time this year. Third-quarter all-in costs were a meagre $531/oz and with proven and probable reserves of 11.2 million contained ounces, Cortez is set be Toronto-based Barrick’s workhorse for a long time.

2. El-Limon Guajes – Mexico

Torex Gold’s El-Limon Guajes started production in December 2015 and the open pit produced 121koz ounces during the first six months of the year on its way to annual production of an average 370koz.

For the rest of this article, click here: