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The world's top 10 largest silver mines in 2020 - report

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(Kitco News) - Kitco ranked the world's top 10 largest silver mines based on reported production for the 2020 calendar year. The ranking excludes Vedanta's Sindesar Khurd mine, located in India.

Only around 30% of annual supply comes from primary silver mines while more than a third is produced at lead/zinc operations and a further 20% from copper mines. The polymetallic ore deposits from which silver are recovered account for more than two-thirds of the world's silver resources.

1. KGHM Mining Hub, Poland. 39.2 Moz.
KGHM Polska Miedz’ Mining Hub consists of Rudna, Polkowice-Sieroszowice and Lubin primary copper mines located in Poland. In addition to copper, it is also an important source of silver, gold and other metals. With 39.2 Moz of silver mined in 2020, KGHM Polska Miedz is the largest silver producing operation worldwide.

2. Penasquito, Mexico. 27.8 Moz.
Newmont’s Penasquito polymetallic mine is Mexico’s largest gold producer, consisting of two open pits – Peñasco and Chile Colorado – containing gold, silver, lead and zinc. Penasquito is an open-pit mine that employs flotation-and-grinding processing, in two 50,000-tonne/day sulphide processing lines and a 30,000-tonne/day high-pressure grinding roll circuit. Penasquito increased silver output by 22% in 2020 to 27.8 Moz and sits second in the list of biggest silver producing operations worldwide.

3. Dukat, Russia. 18.2 Moz.
Dukat silver mine is one of Polymetal’s first and original assets. It is the largest primary silver operation in Russia and Polymetal’s flagship operation. Silver output at Dukat dropped by 6%, from 19.3 million ounces in 2019 to 18.2 million in 2019. The planned decline in silver grade at the Omsukchan concentrator drove the silver production decrease of 6% in both Q4 and full year 2020.

4. Antamina, Peru. 16.4 Moz.
Antamina mine is a large copper-zinc-molybdenum-silver-lead operation, located in the Andes mountains 270 kilometres north of Lima, Peru. The deposit is located at an average elevation of 4,200 metres. The owners are BHP Billiton plc (33.75%), Glencore plc (33.75%), Teck (22.5%) and Mitsubishi Corporation (10%). The mine is an open pit, truck/shovel operation. A 302-kilometre slurry concentrate pipeline transports copper and zinc concentrates to the port for shipment to smelters and refineries world-wide.

5. Saucito, Mexico. 15.5 Moz.
Located in Zacatecas, Mexico, 8km SW of the Fresnillo mine, Saucito is one of Fresnillo’s most important assets. Silver output at Saucito dropped 10% compared to 2019 (17.2 Moz).  

6. San Julian, Mexico. 13.3 Moz.
The San Julián silver-gold mine in Mexico is Fresnillo’s cornerstone project. The geological potential identified in the region thus far may be sufficient to establish a new mining district in the future. The San Julián project includes construction of two plants: i) a dynamic leaching plant to treat ore from the veins and ii) a flotation plant with 6,000 tpd capacity to process ore from the disseminated body.

7. Fresnillo, Mexico. 13.1 Moz.
Fresnillo’s eponymous mine is the seventh largest silver producer and one of the world’s oldest continuously operating mines. It is remarkable that mining operations have been recorded at the site as far back as 1554.

8. Cannington, Australia. 11.6 Moz.
South32’s Cannington silver-lead-zinc mine, located in north-west Queensland, was a long-time undisputed leader in silver production, with a record 44 million ounces of silver achieved in 2005. Since then, silver output dropped significantly due to reduced silver grades, and Cannington finally lost its number one position in recent years, landing just eighth in 2020.

9. Chuquicamata, Chile. 10.9 Moz.
Codelco’s Chuquicamata mine, one of the largest open pit copper mines and the second deepest open-pit mine in the world, is located 1,650km north of Santiago, Chile. The mine, popularly known as Chuqui, has been operating since 1910. Chuqui is a primary copper mine while also being a major source of silver, gold and molybdenum. Chuqui is ninth largest silver producing operation in the world.

10. Greens Creek, USA. 10.5 Moz.
Hecla’s 100%-owned and operated Greens Creek mine in southeast Alaska is one of the largest and lowest-cost primary silver mines in the world, and is the cash generating engine of the company. The Greens Creek orebody contains silver, zinc, gold and lead, and lies within the Admiralty Island National Monument, an environmentally sensitive area. Greens Creek is an underground mine which produces approximately 2,100 to 2,300 tons of ore per day. The primary mining methods are cut and fill and longhole stoping.

The world’s top 10 largest silver mines in 2020 - Kitco

 

Mining operation

Country

Major owner / operator

2020 Ag output, Moz

2019 Ag output, Moz

% change

1

KGHM Polska

Poland

KGHM

39.2

40.2

-2

2

Penasquito

Mexico

Newmont

27.8

22.7

22

3

Dukat

Russia

Polymetal

18.2

19.3

-6

4

Antamina

Peru

Glencore / BHP

16.4

15

9

5

Saucito

Mexico

Fresnillo

15.5

17.2

-10

6

San Julian

Mexico

Fresnillo

13.3

13

2

7

Fresnillo

Mexico

Fresnillo

13.1

13

1

8

Cannington

Australia

South32

11.6

12.3

-6

9

Chuquicamata

Chile

Codelco

10.9

7.2

51

10

Greens Creek

USA

Hecla Mining

10.5

9.9

6

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect those of Kitco Metals Inc. The author has made every effort to ensure accuracy of information provided; however, neither Kitco Metals Inc. nor the author can guarantee such accuracy. This article is strictly for informational purposes only. It is not a solicitation to make any exchange in commodities, securities or other financial instruments. Kitco Metals Inc. and the author of this article do not accept culpability for losses and/ or damages arising from the use of this publication.