Gold is one of the rarest elements in the world, making up roughly 0.003 parts per million of the earth’s crust. But how much gold is the world digging up each year and what countries produce the most?
In 2019, global gold mine production was a reported 3,463.7 tonnes – down one percent from the year prior – and the first year-over-year decline in output since 2008. Gold production has remained relatively steady since 2010, raising the question I’ve explored over the years – have we reached peak gold?
The idea is that all the easy gold has already been discovered and explorers have to dig deeper to find economically viable deposits. For example, South Africa was once the top gold-producing country by far, digging up over 1,000 tonnes in 1970, but annual output has fallen steadily since. On the other hand, several nations have emerged in the last few years as growing gold producers.
As seen in the chart below, China takes the number one spot of global gold producers by a wide margin. The top 10 rankings saw a big shift in 2019 – Russia took the lead over Australia to claim second, Indonesia fell off the list and Brazil joined the ranks as the tenth largest producer. Ghana also jumped ahead of South Africa to become the continent’s top producer.