Gold mining is a global industry, with 90 countries currently digging for this precious metal. However, 75% of the total gold production is widely produced by just 20 countries. Since the beginning of 2013, gold prices have fallen drastically, hitting their lowest level in three years. But that’s after experiencing an unprecedented five year explosion in the value of the precious metal. There are many reasons why the price of gold increased so much so quickly, but the generally accepted reason is that gold is a good investment. On the other hand, when the economy is ostensibly on the mend, there is less need for those safe commodity investments like gold. Put simply, as the economy begins to recover, people are shifting their investments out of “disaster” mode. But even when the price of slips, demand for gold products is still extremely high. Whether people want gold as an investment, or as a precious metal in our watches, rings, necklaces, earrings, and if you’re a rapper, teeth… Let’s take a look at the Top Ten Gold Producing Countries in the World:
Mine production: 89 tons
Official gold holdings: 8.7 tons
Known during colonial days, as the Gold Coast, with independence in 1957 the country opted for the name Ghana. Ghana’s estimated gold reserves sit at 1,600 tons.
Gold production accounts for more than 90% of Ghana’s current total mineral output. Ghana is the second largest African gold producer and the tenth largest producer in the world. Gold overtook cocoa as Ghana’s principal export in 1991 and the IMF estimates that by 2014, gold mining will contribute around $3.8bn to Ghana’s balance of payments . However, by this time, gold’s status as Ghana’s principal export may have been overtaken by oil and gas production.
Mine production: 90 tons
Official gold holdings: Not reported
Uzbekistan has over 40 gold deposits according to their State Geological Committee. Their reserve estimate is 1,700 tons, and Uzbekistan is aiming to get to 120 tons of gold production per year. The country is one of only two double landlocked countries in the world, but that doesn’t mean it’s short on precious resources (though they might have a tougher time shipping them!). Coming in at number 10 on our top ten biggest gold producing countries in the world is Uzbekistan, producing 90,000 kg of gold per year. Much of the country’s gold is nationalized, and owned by Navoi Mining and Metallurgial Combinant mine. While Uzbekistan is at the bottom of our top ten list, it does boast the biggest open-pit mine in the world, which is the Murutau mine. Gold isn’t the only precious resource that Uzbekistan is known for. It also boasts impressive reserves of copper, molybdenum, silver, and uranium.
Mine production: 95 tons
Official gold holdings: 73.1 tons
Indonesian’s political unrest caused the countries gold output to shrink slightly. Currently, Indonesia produces around four percent of global gold production, half of which originates from the giant Grasberg mine, the world largest gold mine, on the western half of Papua. This mine, which is believed to contain the world’s largest gold reserves (67.4 million ounces), is majority-owned by the American company Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. and makes it the largest taxpayer to the Indonesian government. But much tension surrounds activities in this mine.
Mine production: 102 tons
Official gold holdings: 3.4 tons
Canada’s gold production is not as high as they once were, with their official holdings at 3.4 tons, just 0.3% of their total foreign currency. That being said, Canadian firm Barrick Gold had the highest production levels of all gold producing companies in 2012 with 7.42 million ounces. The majority of Canada’s gold is from Ontario, from the Red Lake gold mine. Canada is so patriotic about its gold, that if you have a few hundred dollars laying around, you can get yourself a Canadian gold coin for a few hundred dollars. Get them while you can, because the Canadian gold mines are among the smallest of the highest gold producing countries on this list.
Mine production: 165 tons
Official gold holdings: 34.7 tons
On our list at the sixth position is Peru, a country that is producing gold of 165 metric tons per year. Although in 2012 the total gold production of Peru dropped by 3 percent, it is still having an important place in our list. The official reserves of gold in the country are 34.7 tons. This gold production of the country makes it an important and highlighted country.
5. South Africa
Mine production: 170 tons
Official gold holdings: 125 tons
2012 was South Africa’s worst year of gold production since 1905 due to gold mine strikes. This caused South African gold output to be only about 6% of total production worldwide. AngloGold Ashanti, based in Johannesburg, is the third-largest gold-producing company in the world with reported reserves of 74.1 million ounces at the end of 2012. Official gold holdings in South Africa are 125 tons, or 12.7 percent of total foreign reserves. There are 35 large-scale gold mine in South Africa, including the record setting TauTona mine, which extends 3.9km (approximately 2.5 miles) underground. TauTona translates to ‘great lion’ in the Setswanan.
Mine production: 205 tons
Official gold holdings: 937.8 tons
The Russian gold reserves are believed to be 5,000 tons and production of this precious metal increased by 6.8% in 2012. Russia’s official gold holdings are 937.8 tons, which is 9.9%of total foreign currency. Two thirds of Russian gold production is estimated to come from six eastern ‘federal subjects’ in the country: Amur, Irkutsk, Khabarovsk, Krasnoyarsk, Magadan, and Sakha-Yakutia.
3. United States
Mine production: 230 tons
Official gold holdings: 8,133.5 tons
The U.S.’s gold production dropped 4 tons in 2012 compared to 2011, but was still valued at $12.6 billion. US-based Newmont Mining is one of the world’s top producers of gold and delivered output of 4.98 million ounces of gold in 2012, through operations on five continents including two in North America. The U.S.’s official gold holdings are the largest in the world at 8,133.5 tons, or 76.3% of total foreign currency reserves.
Mine production: 250 tons
Official gold holdings: 79.9 tons
Australia’s primary gold mines are in Western Australia, South Australia and New South Wales. About two-thirds of global gold production comes from Western Australian mines, and the entire continent has gold reserves of 7,400 tons. Australia’s official gold holdings amount to 79.9 tons, which is 8.5% of total foreign currency reserves.
Mine production: 403 tons
Official gold holdings: 1,054.1 tons
Topping this list as it tops so many others, China mines almost ⅓ more than the next closest competitor. In addition to taking top honors as producer, China is the number one consumer of gold, befitting a country whose development has pulled hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. Most mines are located in in Shandong, midway between Beijing and Shanghai, and approximately one fifth of output is controlled by the China National Gold Group. Despite its vast gold mines, only 1,000 tons are held as reserve–a massive amount by most standards but a mere 1.7% of its foreign holdings. Over 1,900 tons are still sitting in the ground, although they are fast going: its annual pace has risen over 10% and seems, if anything, likely to grow higher in the years to come.