A Visual Journey Through Two Centuries of Global Gold Production.

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The timeless art of gold mining has a history spanning millennia, but astonishingly, approximately 86% of the world’s above-ground gold has been unearthed in just the past two centuries. With the advent of modern mining methods enabling large-scale extraction, global gold production has witnessed an unprecedented surge since the 1800s. In this presentation, we employ data from Our World in Data to illustrate the evolution of global gold production by country, tracing the trajectory from 1820 to 2022 and revealing how the world of gold mining has progressively expanded across the globe.

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Exploring the Gold Rush: A memorable moment in the annals of gold mining history occurred during the famed California Gold Rush of 1848, when James Marshall’s discovery of gold in the Sacramento Valley set off a frenzy. Word quickly spread, leading to the migration of thousands in search of fortune, ultimately yielding an astonishing $2 billion worth of gold by 1855. The United States, Australia, and Russia held sway as the three primary gold producers until the 1890s. Subsequently, South Africa claimed the throne with the discovery of the monumental Witwatersrand Basin, now celebrated as one of the world’s most extraordinary goldfields.

South Africa’s Golden Peak: South Africa’s annual gold production reached its zenith in 1970, with an impressive output of 1,002 tonnes—an unparalleled quantity of gold produced in a single year by any country. This remarkable feat solidified South Africa’s status as a global gold production powerhouse.

The Global Gold Resurgence: Following a surge in gold prices since the 1980s, global gold production embarked on a transformative journey, branching out to diverse corners of the world. By 2007, China ascended to become the world’s foremost gold-producing nation, signifying the broader shift in the gold mining landscape. Today, gold is being mined in over 40 countries, reaffirming its enduring allure as a coveted natural resource.

The Top Gold-Producing Countries in 2022

Around 31% of the world’s gold production in 2022 came from three countries—China, Russia, and Australia, with each producing over 300 tonnes of the precious metal.

RankCountry2022E Gold Production, tonnes% of Total
#1 China33011%
#2 Russia32010%
#3 Australia32010%
#4 Canada2207%
#5 United States1705%
#6 Mexico1204%
#7 Kazakhstan1204%
#8 South Africa1104%
#9 Peru1003%
#10 Uzbekistan1003%
#11 Ghana903%
#12 Indonesia702%
 Rest of the World1,03033%
World Total3,100100%

In the realm of North American nations, Canada, the United States, and Mexico collectively constitute a noteworthy presence among the top six gold-producing countries. Together, they contribute 16% to the global gold production landscape. It’s worth noting that within the United States, the state of Nevada takes center stage, accounting for a substantial 72% of the country’s gold production. Nevada is home to the world’s largest gold mining complex, boasting six mines under the ownership of Nevada Gold Mines.

Conversely, South Africa’s gold production in 2022 amounted to 110 tonnes, marking a significant decline of 74% compared to its output of 430 tonnes in the year 2000. This enduring downward trend can be attributed to factors such as mine closures, the aging of mining assets, and industrial disputes, as indicated by insights from the World Gold Council.

Of particular interest are the two relatively smaller gold-producing countries, Uzbekistan and Indonesia, which host the second and third-largest gold mining operations globally, respectively.

As we contemplate the future of global gold production, it’s essential to recognize that gold prices have been teetering around the $1,900 to $2,000 per ounce range, approaching historical peaks. For mining enterprises, elevated gold prices potentially translate to increased profits per ounce, provided that operational costs remain stable.

According to forecasts from the World Gold Council, there is an expectation of heightened gold production in 2023, with the possibility of surpassing the record achieved in 2018, which stood at 3,300 tonnes. This anticipated increase is driven by the expansion of ongoing projects in North America. The prospect of attaining a new record in gold production becomes even more promising if gold prices continue their upward trajectory.

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