Gold is a rare commodity. Although estimates vary, recent data from Thomson Reuters GFMS suggests that there are only 171,300 tonnes of the precious metal in the world. Despite that fact, gold mines can be found in numerous countries.
Here's a look at the three largest gold mines in the world.
Grasberg mineOperated by Arizona-based miner Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (NYSE: FCX), the Grasberg mine is considered by most experts to be the biggest gold mine in the world. It is also one of the largest copper mines. Grasberg is located in the province of Papua in Indonesia. Open-pit operations at the mine began in 1990 and the company expects that they will continue through 2016. As of December 31, 2012, the Grasberg open pit's recoverable proven and probable gold reserves sat at 6.5 million ounces. The mine's targeted gold output for 2013 is 1.25 million ounces, but recent setbacks may cause it to only produce 80 percent of that estimate. A mine tunnel collapsed May 14, forcing Freeport to shut down operations, and production did not resume until July 9. There are still expansion projects in progress in the Grasberg mineral district, including the development of large-scale, high-grade underground ore bodies, according to the company's 2012 annual report. Yanacocha mine Located in the Andes Mountains in Peru, the Yanacocha mine is the largest gold mine in Latin America. It opened in 1993 and contains three active pits. Since its inception, the mine has produced more than 26 million ounces of gold. Yanacocha is owned and operated by Colorado-based gold producer Newmont Mining (NYSE:NEM,TSX:NMC). The company holds a 51.35-percent interest in the property and the rest is claimed by Compania de Minas Buenaventura (NYSE:BVN).