We’ve been mining gold for centuries, but we seldom stop to think about how much is left in the world, and if one day it might just… run out. It’s estimated that to date around 190,000 tonnes of gold have been mined. Gold is one of the most precious metals on the planet and for many people it provides a solid investment opportunity in the form of gold bars and gold coins.
But just how much gold is there left to mine?
The value of gold
It’s no surprise to hear that gold is extremely valuable. In August 2020, gold prices hit a record high at around £1,575 per ounce. This peak not only coincided with the Coronavirus pandemic but is thought to have been driven by it as, typically, in times of economic uncertainty investors turn to gold as a safer venture.
When it comes to estimating the volume of gold left in the ground, its value is an important consideration for mining companies. They estimate the amount of remaining gold by calculating the reserves and resources.
Reserves is the term given to gold that is economic to mine at the current gold price, while resources covers gold that has the potential to become economic in the future or at a higher price point.
Where do you find gold?
Today, China is the world’s biggest gold miner, with Canada and Russia also leading in this industry. However, when we look at individual mines, Nevada Gold Mines takes the top spot, producing around 3.5 million ounces of gold per year – making it the single largest gold mining complex in the world.
When it comes to large scale gold mining, no single source has ever produced more gold than the Witwatersrand Basin in South Africa. It remains the largest single source of gold in history and roughly accounts for 30% of gold ever mined.
Digging for gold
Large-scale mining involves specialist machinery and requires precision and expertise, making it an expensive process. It also becomes difficult when large, established mines begin to near exhaustion, as alternative mines are often smaller and have higher running costs.
As technology evolves it’s hoped that reserves will be easier to access. While robots are currently in use at some sites, initiatives such as artificial intelligence and smart data mining could potentially aid the mining process and decrease the associated costs.
Have we reached ‘peak gold’?
The term ‘peak gold’ is often coined by experts as the point at which we have mined the most we ever can in a single year. Some believe we’ve already reached that point, however not everybody is in agreement.
According to the US Geological Survey, there’s around 50,000 tonnes of below-ground gold reserves remaining. Taking into account the 190,000 tonnes of gold believed to have been mined already, this leaves an estimated 20% of stock left in the ground.
While below-ground stocks may be depleting, one of the benefits of gold is that it can be recycled. This means even when gold can no longer be mined, we will never run out. Gold is also used in many electronic products and initiatives to extract and recycle it are already under way.
Investing in gold bullion
Buying gold bullion is a good investment, but the process can be daunting if it’s a new experience. Find out more about our services or to speak with one of the friendly Bleyer team, please email email@example.com or give us a call on 01769 618618.