The world's top 10 largest silver mines in 2022 - report
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(Kitco News) - Kitco ranked the world's top 10 largest silver mining operations based on reported production for the 2022 calendar year. The ranking excludes Vedanta’s Sindesar Khurd mine, located in India.
Only about 30% of the annual silver production comes from primary silver mines, while more than a third is produced at lead/zinc operations and a further 20% at copper mines. Polymetallic ore deposits, from which silver is recovered, account for more than two-thirds of the world’s silver resources.
1. KGHM Mining Hub, Poland. 42.3 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 42.3 Moz of silver produced in 2022, KGHM Polska Miedz is the largest silver mining operation worldwide.
2. Penasquito, Mexico. 29.7 Moz. Newmont’s Penasquito polymetallic mine consists of two open pits – Peñasco and Chile Colorado – containing gold, silver, lead and zinc. Penasquito employs flotation-and-grinding processing. Penasquito’s silver output declined by 5% y-o-y to 29.7 Moz in 2022.
3. Dukat, Russia. 18.3 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 decreased by 3% y-o-y, from 18.8 million ounces in 2021 to 18.3 million in 2022.
4. Antamina, Peru. 14.7 Moz. Antamina mine is a large copper-zinc-molybdenum-silver-lead operation located in the Andes, 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. San Julian, Mexico. 14.3 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 mine includes 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.
6. Fresnillo, Mexico. 13.6 Moz. Fresnillo’s eponymous mine is 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. Full year 2022 silver production increased compared to 2021 primarily due to a higher volume of ore processed as operating restrictions that affected ore throughput in 2021 were addressed.
7. Saucito, Mexico. 12 Moz. Located in Zacatecas, Mexico, 8km SW of the Fresnillo mine, Saucito is one of Fresnillo’s most important assets. Full year 2022 silver production of 12 Moz decreased by 3.7% vs. FY21 driven by a lower volume of ore processed mainly due to changes to the short planning process.
8. Cannington, Australia. 11.7 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 has finally lost its number one position in recent years. In calendar 2022, silver production at the mine decreased by 19% to 11.7 Moz.
9. Cerro Los Gatos, Mexico. 10.3 Moz. Silver production at Cerro Los Gatos was a record of 10.3 million ounces in 2022, up 36% from 7.6 million ounces in 2021, and above the high end of the most recent 2022 guidance range of 9.35 million to 9.65 million ounces. The higher silver production was primarily due to higher silver ore grades and higher mill throughput rates.
10. Greens Creek, USA. 9.7 Moz. Hecla’s 100%-owned and operated Greens Creek mine located in southeast Alaska. The Greens Creek orebody contains silver, zinc, gold and lead. Greens Creek is an underground mine. The primary mining methods are cut and fill and longhole stoping. Greens Creek produced 9.7 million ounces of silver in 2022, an increase of 5% over the prior year, achieving record mill throughput.
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