Mining Intelligence collects data from over 20,000 mining projects and mineral properties, and has identified the world’s highest mines and mineral properties. This data set reveals the patterns of 314 mining and exploration operations at altitudes greater than 2500 metres. These projects vary from exploration properties, underground and open pit mines, tailings and even mills.

As the world turns to metals to build renewable technology, this demand will reach further into alpine environments, which pose their own unique set of challenges.

Climbing into the Data

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

The bulk of the projects produce both 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 of the World’s Highest Mines

ProjectCompanyAltitude (meters)Primary MetalCountry
Filo Del SolFilo Mining5,127CopperArgentina
Volcan(Dorado / Ojo de Agua)Hochschild Mining5,121GoldChile
AzucaHochschild Mining5,093SilverPeru
JulongZijin Mining/Tibet Gulong5,091CopperChina
Ana MariaMinera Ananea5,009GoldPeru
3Q-Tres QuebradasZijin Mining5,000Potassium,Argentina
CoraniBear Creek Mining4,971SilverPeru
El QuevarGolden Minerals4,960SilverArgentina
Acumulacion MarielaAruntani4,949GoldPeru
Heraldos Negros ProjectMinera San Valentin4,911ZincPeru
San RafaelMinsur4,875TinPeru
Panthal (Jammu & Kashmir)NMDC4,874MagnesiteIndia
Reliquias-CastrovirreynaSilver Mountain Resources4,850SilverPeru
CorihuarmiMineral IRL4,838GoldPeru
CrespoHochschild Mining4,833SilverPeru

Human and Engineering Challenges

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.

As a result of less oxygen, machinery and systems often perform differently 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 below. Mining operations must balance this information carefully when deciding what types of vehicles and equipment to use for each individual mine site.

Unique Data for Insights into Projects

As the world enters a new phase of metal demand, we can expect more and more prospectors scouring the craggy cliffs to build the next of the world’s highest mines. The data from these projects is immensely valuable and will help determine what projects will succeed in these environments.

If you are interested in this data and so much more unique, contact Mining Intelligence for a demo today.

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