The Muruntau Mine is the biggest gold mine on earth having resources of over 4000t of gold, about 53t of gold comes from the Muruntau Mine every year. It’s located in Uzbekistan (Central Asia) in the Kyzylkum desert. The area which is currently used for mining measures 2.7km in width and 3.5km in length. Having to dig down 600m into the ground to find gold doesn’t stop miners from finding the precious metals that lie beneath the earth. Depending on the current gold price, gold worth millions of dollars are being mined every month.

Muruntau Mine: Geological Date on

History of the Muruntau Mine

The Muruntau Mine was discovered in 1958 by geologists of the Soviet Union, however mining didn’t start until July 11 years later. It is owned and operated by Navoi Mining & Metallurgical Combinat up to this day. The mine was modernized 4 times and another development is underway.

Geology of the Muruntau Mine and the Mining Process

The Kyzylkum desert is located within a volcanic belt, the Beltau-Kurama. The ground is made of four tectonic layers and doesn’t only contain gold, but also Uranium and turquoise deposits. All in all the area is very fruitful for mining operations. The Muruntau Mine is what you call an open pit mine. Mines can be sorted into four general categories: Open pit mines, underground mines, placer mines and in situ mining. The difference between them is the structure on which the mine is built. In open pit mines the mountain is usually separated into terraces, using explosives material is stripped from the rock and then transported to facilities nearby. In underground mines deep shafts are dug into the ground, often more than 800 meters deep. (the deepest underground mine is located in South Africa and has a depth of 2.5 miles). Underground mines are also the oldest kind of mines, back in the day people dug out shafts with their bare hands, later with shovels and as things became more modern with explosives. The advantage of open pit mines compared to underground mines is that they are way cheaper in construction cost. Placer mining on the other hand works with tools like sluice boxes or even just by hand with a gold pan. The first sluice boxes were invented by Edward Mattison in the year of 1853. Last but not least in situ mining, this mining category uses powerful pumps to separate material from rocks, this process happens underground. Then all that is left to do is pump minerals back up to the surface leaving the other worthless rocks where they were before: buried under the earth. In situ mining is usually used to extract uranium and copper, not gold. You will not find gold nuggets in this type of mine.

Location of The Muruntau Mine

Muruntau Mine Machinery

To unearth tons of gold each year miners have help from dozens of different kinds of machines that make this hard job possible. One of these machines is the conveyor, a kind of belt that stretches over 3km in length. More important tools include: Crushers (like their name suggests they crush rocks), dump hoppers (they dump tons and tons of material) and of course a lot of excavators and different kinds of trucks. The extraction of the gold itself is made possible by the heap leaching method, a chemical process that is based on different kinds of salts and acids. These salts and acids are then showered over the gold that is enclosed by the rocks. The rocks ooze away leaving the precious gold free. Other leaching methods include: ammonia leaching, alkali leaching, cyanide leaching and acid leaching. The main difference (among other differences) between the four is the amount of pressure and the heat that is being used.

Muruntau Mine Location and Geography

The Muruntau mine is located in Uzbekistan which is not only known for its big gold supply, but also for its uranium and copper. Uzbekistan (Republic of Uzbekistan) lies in central Asia. Being the 7th biggest uranium supplier worldwide and having the biggest gold mine on earth, this country has truly made itself a reputation for mining. The Muruntau mine itself is located in the Kyzylkum desert (turkish for red sand), the 15th largest desert in the world. It stretches through Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan over a stretch of 115,000 square miles. This region is extremely promising for finding not only uranium, copper and gold, but also gas, zinc, coal and even silver. Uzbekistan has fascinated many by not only its unique Geography but also by its mineral reserves. The Muruntau mine is only the tip of the iceberg of what wonders lie beneath it, in Uzbekistan a country built on mining.