Gold! Gold! yes, Gold! One of the most precious metals which everyone wants to get their hands on. I’m even tempted to say that among kids this is the most known mineral or even better or worse the only metal they know. It possesses such great power that in the past it was used to exchange everything from food to clothes and goods in general before the invention of money. Today, even though many countries produces gold, there are the top 10 gold producing countries that has maintained the production and supply of Gold.
For many years South Africa was at the top of the food chain when it came to gold production until 2006 when its production was cut in half and fell from first to the seventh spot in the list. Recently other countries have surfaced and surpassed South Africa like China, Russia, United Sates and Peru although none has ever reached its peak which occurred in the 1970s.
In more than 12 years of research, China more than doubled its production and took the top spot.2016 was an eventful year for gold prices as its price rose by about 9 percent. Its lowest level at the start of year and it reached $1.372 per ounce and hit its highest after Brexit. Gold production, however, remained steady same as the previous year (3,100 metric tons). This list of top gold producing countries vary every year but this is the latest one.
This country rounds up the list of the top ten gold producing countries which produced 100 metric tons of gold in the year 2016. This was, however, a drop in production as they produced 102 metric tons in 2015.
The country is one of the two countries known to be doubly landlocked but this doesn’t mean they are not endowed with rich minerals which also include silver, copper, and uranium. The obvious challenge, however, is seen when it comes to shipping.
Its largest mine is called the Muruntau gold mine which surprisingly is also one of the biggest open-pit mines in the world. The largest deposits are nationalized and owned by Navoi Mining and Metallurgical Combinant mine. The country has been producing gold from old mines but has not seen much in terms of exploration and investment. Overall it holds about 1700 tonnes in gold reserves.
The matters about gold production are controversial just like they are in Uzbekistan. Just like Indonesian gold is extracted from mines.
Its gold production levels rose from 97 metric tons in 2015 to 100 metric tons in 2016. The country has 3,000 tons of gold reserves. More surprises still turn up because considering its number on this list the country’s largest gold mine which is called the Grasberg mine holds the record for the largest gold mine on the planet.
This mine employs 19,000 workers and it holds 25.8 million ounces as well as 26.9 billion pounds of copper. The major Indonesian mine, however, is considered to be the world’s most toxic locations. It is said to produce and release over 1,000 tons of mercury into the atmosphere every year and top of that the positive side is that it produces 100,000 kilograms of gold annually. A considerable amount of this mercury volatilizes in the air, the thing that is considered toxic for the people of Indonesia.
Someone once said that the people who live near this place consume fish containing twice the permissible amount of exposure to mercury which translates to a very dangerous public health issue.
According to research, Mexico’s gold production has remained relatively stable over the last several years. Sadly, however, its production dropped to 125 metric tons in 2016 from 135 metric tons in 2015. This, however, this did not deter the country from pursuing further developments in this field and this led to a number of discoveries and mine developments in Mexico over the last a couple of years. This has made the country to still remain at the top as a gold producer as they have attracted a deal of attention and this, in turn, led to an increase in production by more than four-fold.
The country has about 1,400 tons in gold reserves. Although historically it is known for its silver mining activities, Mexico has actually been mining gold for the last 500 years and has plenty of precious metals which still remain untouched. Recent developments in technology have enabled them to tap these unexploited precious metals and putting into consideration the fact that its political environment is suitable for mining activities, Mexico is said to likely become one of the top-gold-producing nation for the foreseeable future.
Gold mining in Mexico, however, does have a lot of controversies. Many mining companies are foreign such as the McEwen Mining Inc. which recently funded a robbery by armed gunmen which looted a refinery. This was the third attack of this kind in 2015. This does not stop there as there are also reported cases of kidnappings with workers disappearing and turning up dead days later. This increase in the number of attacks shows just how much there is a risk of mining in the country. These security issues may present a downside to the mining sector in the future.
7) South Africa
Gold was first discovered in 1886 by George Harrison and set off a chain reaction starting with the Witwatersrand Gold Rush that completely changed it from a largely agricultural society to one of the largest gold producing nations in the world and this paved way for the birth of Johannesburg.
It is the biggest gold producing country in Africa having 6,000 tons in gold reserves. Its production has however been steadily falling over the last ten years or so. In 2016. Its production was 140 metric tons which were a drop compared to the previous year which was 145 metric tons.
Since 1980 South Africa’s gold production has fallen by 85 percent and this has impacted the country drastically. In fact, until 2006, it was considered the largest producer of the gold producer in the world but now they have lagged behind but still there is room for improvement.
According to Bloomberg, shrinking reserves, rising labor costs, and frequent stoppages have led the miners to rethink whether they want to mine in the country. Washington post notes that the falling gold prices have taken a huge toll on its economy. Gold has however continued to be the nation’s massive contributor even with investment a problem in the industry.
There is no doubt this a mining country with the activity going back as far as 1,000 years back. It is located in the Latin America and it is the largest gold producing country in the region and second in the entire Americas after the United States. Its production decreased in 2014 due to several factors like low production and crackdown on illegal mines. The production increased in 2015 to 145 metric tons and in 2016 there was a slight increase with output rising to 150 metric tons.
Its largest mine is the Chucapaca mine in Cusco Region known for producing gold and silver. Its mining has negative implications on the environment and its gold decreased to due to great consumption. The problem with its gold mines is that they are mostly located on mountain tops, therefore, the mining operations above have impacts on the land below.
The country faces a problem due to illegal gold production which is rampant and use of mercury just like in Indonesia which causes pollution. The country is the custodian of 2,400 tons of gold reserves.
Funny enough, Canada is one of the largest gold producers in the world but it is less fortunate as it does not have a big number of gold mines. Spanning Alberta, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, British Columbia, Nunavut, and Ontario, their number of mines does not exceed 35. Its major gold mine is the Red Lake and is located in Ontario.
Its production in 2016 rose significantly where it recorded an output of 170 metric tons of gold compared to the previous year where it recorded 153 metric tons. It also has 2,400 tons of gold reserves. Gold production in the nation is poised to rise and in February 2017, Agnico-Eagle Mines announced its plans to expand some gold mines in Nunavut and become operational in 2019.
4) United States
U.S gold production dropped last year from 214 metric tons in 2015 to 209 metric tons in 2016. It has 3,000 tons of gold reserves. While its mines are mostly in Nevada and Montana, most of its gold sits in vaults under New York City, Fort Knox, and others. It’s said that over 8,000 tons of gold are contained in these vaults by the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department which also accounts for three-quarters of total foreign reserves.
Most of its gold was produced at more than 40 lode mines, several large ones are in Alaska and other small ones in the western US. Bald Mountain, Betz-Post, Borealis and the Gortez Gold are the major mines in the Nevada state which supply close to 70 percent of the country’s gold output itself.
The United States Geological Survey (U.S.G.S) further notes that the top 26 operations in the nation were responsible for 99 percent of its gold output. The current high production figures are allowed to the opening of the mines in Montana which was malfunctioning as gold prices have increased over the years. Gold production has however decreased over the years since 2000 as demand for gold has decreased within its borders itself among the elite.
Russia is a large country geographically and as one might expect, she also has a wealth of natural resources. This includes gold and even though it has been mining it for many centuries, gold production still hit an all-time low as recently in 1998. It saw a significant rise in gold production in 2014 leading it to surpass U.S for the first time in 25 years. Its production was steady in 2016 where it recorded an output of 250 metric tons but the country seeks to expand production in gold to 400 tons by 2030. Most of this gold will come from the development of local gold ore fields. According to U.S.G.S, Russia holds 8,000 metric tons of gold reserves, second only to Australia at 9,500.
In 2014, Forbes ranked it as the biggest buyer of gold and that there’s a concern that it will use its gold to raise the dollar and euro exchange rate. Another report says that Russia has over 5,000 tons of untouched in the far eastern reaches if Siberia and its environs. Also noteworthy is the fact that Russian in-ground reserves went from 5,000 tons in 2014 to 8,000 tons in 2015
As the world’s second largest producer of gold, Australia produces around 270 tons of gold every year. In 2016 however, it took a bit of a tumble with its production recorded at 270 metric tons dropping from 278 metric tons in 2015. That decline may have been caused by a report by the country’s largest gold producer, Newcrest Mining, which stated that there was a drop in production in 2016. Specifically, the company noted that it was because its production in the Cadia operation was lower and it had also sold a mine in Papua New Guinea.
Its major mines are in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, and Western Australia and all these enable the nation to make more than 15 billion dollars a year. The largest open mine on the continent named Golden Mile is the largest producer of the precious metal. It has a reserve of 9,500 tons and it’s the highest in the world and has 80 tons of gold or 9.3 percent of its foreign reserves.
Mining is a major sector in the nation and according to the Australian Institute, 22,000 mining positions were axed between 2013 and 2015, and according to the Sidney Morning Herald, a further 2000 were cut earlier.
This is the number one producer of gold in the world. The U.S.G.S estimates that China mined 450 metric tons of gold in 2015. Since it began gold production in the 1970s has increased rapidly over the years and overtook South Africa in 2007.
It has held this position for 10 straight years and in addition to that it has been the largest consumer of it for four straight years according to the World Gold Council but dropped in 2016 by 7% due to high gold prices and short supply
In 2016 it recorded an output of 455 metric tonnes compared to 2015’s 450 metric tonnes. Over the last few years it has been able to double its production. Its major gold mines are located in Shandong Province where most of its gold comes from. Roughly a fifth of output is under the control of the China National Gold Group.
Despite this amount of gold it produces, only about 1,000 tons are in the reserves- a mere 1.7& of its foreign holdings but still a massive amount by its standards. Although it’s at the top of this list, it is expected Chinese companies will explore potential acquisitions internationally to reduce dependency on international gold and satisfy the demand.
Gold is so important that apart from its commercial demand of being forged into jewellery, it also has a financial demand as it is used to manage risk in financial portfolios and protect wealth of many people. Demand for gold has been increasing in the past years and with the growing economies of Asia, it begs the question, what is the future of gold? The present gold is protected in vaults (most of it at least) by governments and investors as some kind of hoard.
Environmental impacts of its production will also have to be taken into account as technology progresses. This demand for gold will not be surpassed anytime soon by any metal and as it becomes scarce will humans continue to search for this metal even in the outer space? Who will be leading producer of? And lastly will this affect the price of gold?