Despite the rumors floating around your local elementary school, it’s not actually possible to dig a hole so deep so as to come out the other side. It’s not even possible to drill to the center of the Earth as Jules Verne might have led you to believe.
But human beings have nonetheless proven to be an intrepid bunch and have managed to make some pretty impressive holes in the ground in the process.
Here is an introduction to what large-scale excavation construction services can do when it comes to the deepest excavation projects ever completed.
1. Kola Superdeep Borehole
Located in Russia and representing the only hole in the ground on this list that wasn’t used as a mine, the Kola Superdeep Borehole is the result of a scientific effort to drill into the Earth’s crust as deep as humanly possible. The result measures in at only 9 inches (23 centimeters) wide, but is an astonishing 40,230 feet (12,262 meters) deep. Drilling began in May 1970 and lasted until 1992 when the temperatures at this depth and location became too high (356˚F/180˚C) to feasibly continue.
2. Bingham Canyon Mine
This mammoth pit in Utah is the largest copper mine in the world and has been operating for more than 100 years. Known to locals as the Kennecott Copper Mine, it is 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) wide and almost three-quarters of a mile (1.2 kilometers) deep. In addition to being absolutely huge, it has also proven to be incredibly productive. Churning out not only copper, but gold, silver and molybdenum as well, the total value of materials taken from this mine exceeds that of the Klondike, Comstock Lode and California gold rush mining operations combined.
3. Kimberly Diamond Mine
Also known as the Big Hole, this combination open-pit and underground mine is located in South Africa. Measuring 1,519 feet (463 meters) wide and 790 feet (240 meters) deep at its deepest point, the size is daunting, but even more impressive is the time at which it was dug. Operations began in 1871 and ran until 1914, and during this period, workers removed 22 million tons of earth in order to mine over 6,600 pounds (3,000 kilograms) of diamonds, making it one of the largest holes ever excavated by hand.
4. Diavik Diamond Mine
Located just south of the Arctic Circle in Northwest Territories, Canada, this diamond mine, aside from being one of the largest and coldest in the world, it is also one of the newest. Digging only began in 2003, but has since reached an impressive depth of 600 feet (183 meters). Despite being accessible only by airplane, this massive operation still manages to produce about 3,300 pounds (1,497 kilograms) of diamonds each year.
5. Berkeley Pit
Much closer to home for excavation construction services in Farmington Hills, MI, the Berkeley Pit can be found in Butte, Montana. The second open-pit copper mine on the list, this one is 1 mile long and 1/2 mile wide at the surface, and reaches a depth of approximately 1,780 feet (540 meters). Digging began in 1955 and it is estimated that as much as 1 billion tons of material were removed in order to get at the abundant copper (and a far lesser amount of silver and gold) before it was eventually closed in 1982.