THE MASSIVE 46 STORY TALL STRUCTURE: The Penasquito Mine Tailings Dam


The colossal Penasquito Mine’s tailings dam will reach a stunning height of a 46 story skyscraper over the next decade.  That is, if the mine reopens and is allowed to continue business as usual.  Newmont-Goldcorp suspended operations at Mexico’s second largest silver mine on April 29th, due to a blockade stemming from issues with the local community regarding water supply concerns and problems with a trucking contractor.

Last year, the Penasquito Mine produced 272,000 oz of gold and over 18 million oz of silver.  However, it plans on producing over 5 million oz of gold and 400+ million oz of silver over the next decade.

After I published my article, MORE TROUBLE IN MEXICO: Second Largest Silver Mine Suspended Operations, I did some research on Penasquito’s tailings dam, and when I saw a photo of the dam, I was literally shocked by its massive size.  I never really gave it much thought about where all the waste ended up after the processing of ore was finished.  It’s a typical problem we all deal with today, OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND.

Let me start by saying that the tailings dam is so large; it surpasses the size of the Penasquito open pit mine itself. For clarification, the tailings dam (or ponds) are used to store the processed waste slurry after the metals have been extracted.  Here is a layout of the Penasquito Mining Operation:

(image courtesy of Goldcorp 2018 Tailings & Mine Waste Conference PDF report)

As you can see, the tailings dam is 4 kilometers long compared to the Penasquito open-pit mine, which is about half its size.  However, this layout doesn’t give the epic scale of the tailings dam justice.  According to the images in Goldcorp’s 2018 Tailings & Mine Waste Conference PDF, and data from the company’s Feb 2019 Penasquito Mine Tour Presentation, the tailings dam is currently 85 meters tall, or nearly 280 feet in height: