Mining with Altitude

Mining with Altitude: The World’s Highest Mines – Copy

Mountains reveal the patterns of rock formation that we would never be able to see firsthand. This is why it makes for attractive places to mine; the subsurface processes that make and deposit the metals and minerals exposed upward through organic overburden. 

Costmine Intelligence collects data on over 20,000 projects and out of these projects, including their altitude data. This data set reveals the patterns of global alpine mining on 314 projects that are in exploration stage, in production or recently suspended.  

Digging into the Data

This data can be mapped to show the location of mines at or above 2500 metres to 5300 metres. Out of the total 314 projects, Latin America has the largest concentration of alpine mines with ~88% of the mines. The second largest concentration is China with 18 projects, and the US with 10.

The bulk of the projects are base and precious metals projects taking up 43%, while 24.8% are solely precious metals and 12.5% just base metals. There are 36 lithium projects at elevation primarily in the Lithium Triangle of South America. 

Top 20 Highest Mines

Project

Company

Altitude

Primary Metal

Country

Filo Del Sol

Filo Mining

5,127

Copper

Argentina

Volcan (Dorado / Ojo de Agua)

Hochschild Mining

5,121

Gold

Chile

Azuca

Hochschild Mining

5,093

Silver

Peru

Julong

Zijin Mining/Tibet Gulong

5,091

Copper

China

Ana Maria

Minera  Ananea

5,009

Gold

Peru

3Q-Tres Quebradas

Zijin Mining

5,000

Potassium, Lithium

Argentina

Corani

Bear Creek Mining

4,971

Silver

Peru

El Quevar

Golden Minerals

4,960

Silver

Argentina

Nazareth

Minsur

4,953

Tin

Peru

Acumulacion Mariela

Aruntani

4,949

Gold

Peru

Heraldos Negros Project

Minera San Valentin

4,911

Zinc

Peru

San Rafael

Minsur

4,875

Tin

Peru

Panthal (Jammu & Kashmir)

NMDC

4,874

Magnesite

India

Reliquias-Castrovirreyna

Silver Mountain Resources

4,850

Silver

Peru

Fenix

Rio2

4,849

Gold

Chile

Oyama

Volcan/Glencore

4,848

Copper

Peru

Tambomayo

Buenaventura

4,847

Gold

Peru

Ticlio

n/a

4,847

Zinc

Peru

Corihuarmi

Mineral IRL

4,838

Gold

Peru

Crespo

Hochschild Mining

4,833

Silver

Peru

Mining at Heights 

Working at altitude poses a unique set of problems for miners and their equipment. Humans living and working at altitude often experience altitude sickness. Altitude sickness occurs above 2,400 metres. Most altitude sickness symptoms are similar to a hangover or a flu. Some cases can progress to potentially fatal conditions such as high altitude pulmonary or cerebral edema.

Machinery and systems often perform differently at high altitude than they do at lower elevations. Vehicle performance can be compromised due to loss of horsepower at high elevations for carbureted gasoline engines. 

Diesel has performance issues at colder temperatures around 40°F (~4.4°C) below. Mining operations must balance this information carefully when deciding what types of vehicles and equipment to use for each individual mine site, and no one solution offers a silver bullet to the challenges at each mine site.

At What Altitude are Your Projects?

These projects come with their own unique challenges and as the world enters a new phase of metal demand, we can expect more and more prospectors scouring the craggy cliffs of the world’s mountain regions. 

If you would like to receive regular updates and the latest insights into the mining industry you can subscribe to the Costmine Intelligence newsletter here.

Want to learn more about Costmine Intelligence and how we can help you streamline your with your mining data needs?

Request a demo with a member of our team to get a personal assessment and discover what tools and data meet your needs.

Chris Berry

Vice-President Sales

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