Who produces the world’s gold?
Gold production fell again in 2020. According to the World Gold Council, gold production came in at 3,478 tons last year. That compares with mine output of 3,597 tons in 2019.
The decline was primarily driven by disruptions in mine production due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it marked the second straight yearly drop in mine output and continued a trend of flatlining gold mine production.
Looking at general the trend, we see signs of plateauing mine output over the last five years. According to the WGC, production was up 77.72 tons between 2015 and 2016, 33.92 tons between 2016 and 2017, and 28 tons between 2017 and 2018. Gold production then dropped 56 tons between 2018 and 2019.
Gold production has generally increased every year since the 1970s. There was a drop in production in 2008, but that was something of an anomaly, as it occurred at the onset of the 2008 financial crisis. The recent slowdown in mine production is more concerning. In fact, many people speculate we may be at or near “peak gold.” This is the point where the amount of gold mined out of the earth will begin to shrink every year. Some prominent players in the mining industry think we’re close to that point.
So, which countries produced the most gold in 2020?
1. China – 368.3 tons
China has ranked as the world’s top gold producer for many years, but production has dropped over the last four. More strict environmental regulations have put a drag on mine output.
2. Russia – 331.1 tons
Russia produces much of the gold consumed in Europe, but the Russian government is the biggest buyer of Russian gold. The country has increased output every year since 2010. In 2019, Russia moved ahead of Australia to become the number two gold producer in the world.
3. Australia – 327.8 tons
Australia has boosted gold mine output for eight straight years. The minerals industry, including gold, makes up about half of Australia’s total exports.
4. United States – 190.2 tons
Last year, gold production dropped below 200 tons for the first time in several years and has declined since 2019. Nevada produces about 80% of US gold.
5. Canada – 170.6 tons
Canada has held the fifth spot in the rankings for four straight years. Production was flat in 2020, dropping by about 12 tons.
6. Ghana – 138.7 tons
Ghana moved ahead of South Africa in 2019 to become Africa’s leading gold producer. It is the only African country in the top-10.
7. Brazil – 107.0 tons
Brazil moved up from the number 10 spot in 2019. It saw increased mine output for the third straight year.
8. Uzbekistan – 101.6 tons
Uzbekistan is a newcomer to the list. Uzbek mine output increased dramatically in 2020 from 94.6 tons in 2019. It was the first time the country has produced more than 100 tons of gold. Muruntau ranks as the world’s largest open-pit gold mine by area. Some geologists think it may sit on the largest remaining gold deposit in the world.
9. Mexico – 101.6 tons
Mexican gold mine output fell for the fifth straight year, but the country held on to the number nine spot.
10. Indonesia – 100.9 tons
This small South Pacific nation mines about 3% of the world’s gold supply. It is home to the world’s second-largest gold mine.
Notably absent from the list of top gold producers – South Africa. The country once led the world in gold output. A 2018 study projected South Africa could run out of gold within four decades. Analysts say that at current production levels, the country has only 39 years of accessible gold reserves remaining.
Peru also fell off the top-1o list. In 2018, Peru ranked sixth in the world.
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