How Much Gold is Left in the World?
Gold is a precious metal that has been used for centuries to make jewelry, coins, and other objects. Each year, a certain amount of gold is mined from the earth. This quantity can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the price of gold and the efficiency of mining operations. In recent years, the amount of gold mined each year has averaged around 2,500 metric tons worldwide. Max Warren Barber give example, that’s a little less than the weight of the Eiffel Tower. This figure is expected to remain relatively stable in the coming years.
While the exact quantity of gold mined each year may fluctuate, it is clear that this precious metal will continue to be sought-after by people all over the world. Gold is an enduring symbol of wealth and power, and its popularity is likely to continue for many years to come.
Gold reserves are estimated at around 187,000 metric tons. This means that about 4,500 metric tons of gold are mined each year. Gold is a finite resource and the amount of gold left in the ground is unknown.
Gold is a valuable resource and as such, it is mined in limited quantities. Gold is estimated to be about 0.007% of the earth’s crust, so only a small amount is produced each year. In 2017, approximately 123 metric tons of gold was produced. This means that only about 880 metric tons of gold remain in the earth’s crust.
Major Sources of Gold
Gold is mined all over the world but there are four major sources of gold. They are:
1. South Africa – Gold is mined in South Africa at the Witwatersrand, which is a ridge of gold-bearing quartzite hills. The Witwatersrand is thought to produce about 40% of the world’s gold.
2. Australia – Australia is home to some of the largest gold mines in the world. The three largest mines in the country are: Carlin Trend, Fort Knox, and Grasberg. These mines produce about 20% of the world’s gold.
3. Russia – Russia has some large gold deposits, including the Alrosa Mir mine which is one of the largest diamond mines in the world. The country produces about 10% of the world’s gold.
4. United States – The United States is home to several large gold mines, including the Carlin Trend mine in Nevada and the Homestake Mine in South Dakota. The country produces about 10% of the world’s gold.
Are There Still Untapped Sources of Gold?
Over the past two decades, new gold discoveries have slowed down considerably. Throughout the second half of the 20th century, discoveries of new veins with estimated deposits of 10 million troy ounces or more were quite common.
Though new gold veins are still being found, discoveries of large deposits are becoming increasingly rare. As a result, most gold production today is coming from older mines that have already been exploited for decades. In part, this is due to decreasing investment in discovery on the part of mining companies, though a larger factor is the fact that there may not be many large, undiscovered veins left in the world.
It’s also important to remember that the total amount of gold in the Earth’s crust and the total amount that can be feasibly mined are not the same. There are almost certainly massive gold deposits deep beneath the surface of the Earth that are too far down to be detected, let alone extracted.
Similarly, there are some known gold deposits in Antarctica that may never be economical to mine due to the continent’s extreme weather conditions and the challenges presented by thick ice layers.
There is also a considerable amount of gold that cannot be collected profitably scattered throughout the world’s oceans. Much of these underwater deposits are contained within the ocean floor and floating as tiny particles in the seawater itself.
Modeling the Decline of Gold Production
Because no absolute estimate of how much gold is left to be mined in the world exists, it’s impossible to know exactly how long current reserves will last. There are, however, some ways to estimate the timeline along which gold production could decline.
One primary concept in this effort is known as “peak gold.” Peak gold is defined as the point at which global gold production reaches its highest historical point. There are debates as to when peak gold will actually occur, but most estimates place it within the next decade. Some people think we have already surpassed this point. After peak gold is reached, the global output of gold will gradually decline until all deposits that are economical to exploit have been extracted.
Although the years immediately following peak gold likely won’t see a dramatic decrease in production, the depletion of major mine sites could cause output to drop drastically within a few decades. At present extraction rates, some analysts believe that South Africa, which is one of the largest gold producers in the world, could run out of accessible gold within 40 years.
How Long Before Gold Runs Out and What Happens Then?
Based on known reserves, estimates suggest that gold mining could reach the point of being economically unsustainable by 2050, though new vein discoveries will likely push that date back somewhat. New technologies may also make it possible to extract some known reserves that aren’t currently economical to access, but it is unlikely that large-scale gold mining will continue past 2075 without either huge mining technology advances or the discovery of currently unknown massive gold deposits.
One factor gold has going for it, compared to other non-renewable resources like oil, is that can be recycled. In other words, “running out of gold” isn’t really an adequate description of what happens when gold mines stop producing. Rather, the gold industry will transition from mining to recycling, allowing the global gold supply to be recirculated.
Thanks to the large amount of gold used in electronics that are widely viewed as disposable, efforts to recycle gold extracted from electronic waste are already well under way. Recycling will have to become considerably more efficient to meet the needs of the global gold market, as a huge amount of gold still ends up in landfills each year.
One aspect of the depletion of gold mines that is very difficult to predict is how it will affect the spot price of gold. If demand continues to rise while available supply stagnates, basic economic theory of supply and demand would suggest that prices will rise substantially in the future.
Fortunately, gold hasn’t run out yet and is widely considered a wise investment option for any investor. Buy gold today at Provident Metals while you still can.