How Much Gold Is In the World? Download U.S. Money Reserve's Special Report to Find Out

How Much Gold Is In the World? (Special Report)

Gold remains one of the rarest elements on earth. But just how hard is it to come by, and when might the gold supply run out? America’s Gold Authority® has the answers.

How Much Gold Has Been Mined?

No one knows for certain how to calculate the total amount of gold ever mined, but the best guess is that around 190,040 tonnes of gold have been mined throughout history, reports the World Gold Council (WGC). Each year, mining operations extract about 2,500 to 3,000 tonnes of gold.

More than 40 percent of all of the gold mined around the world has come from the Witwatersrand Basin mine in South Africa. In 1970, the mine accounted for almost 80 percent of global gold production.

But after more than a century as the world’s top gold producer, the country has slipped. In 2006, the country put out 8.75 million ounces of gold. Compare that to 2016, when their gold production declined to a mere 4.5 million ounces, notes Business Insider, and about 4.2 million ounces in December 2018.

Since it’s almost impossible to destroy gold, however, most of the yellow metal that’s been mined remains in some form. Gold is increasingly put to work in nanotechnology in medicine, space exploration, engineering, and environmental management where it is used in such small quantities that it may no longer be economical to recycle it.

Jewelry, for one, already accounts for 50 percent of current global gold demand, reports the WGC. How much gold does that leave for other applications? New and innovative uses for gold are being discovered every day, uses that could jeopardize your ability to buy gold in the future.

>> If current mining operations continue at the same pace, below-ground stocks could be depleted in less than 20 years. Is that enough time for you? We did the math, and you can read all about it in our newest Special Report. Download “How Much Gold Is in the World?” for free!

How Much Gold Is Left in the World?

Figuring out how much gold remains to be mined is still tricky, though. We do know that gold makes up about four parts per billion of the earth’s crust. What we don’t know, however, is precisely how much gold is still out there.

The WGC estimates that there are 54,000 tonnes of “below-ground gold reserves” waiting to be mined. These below-ground reserves account for less than 30 percent of what has already been mined.

“World gold supplies are difficult to quantify. That is because gold reserves are not always reported accurately,” according to the West Coast Placer gold blog. “[More than] 50 percent of gold above ground is used for [jewelry], which makes it difficult to track.”

Furthermore, small-scale gold miners don’t always correctly report their gold hauls, particularly in developing nations.

If there really are about 54,000 tonnes of gold waiting to be mined from underground reserves, we’re not talking about a lot of the metal. A cargo ship can haul about 25,000 tons of cargo, meaning that if you could gather all of the earth’s remaining gold in one place, you could haul it in fewer than three cargo ships.

How Much Gold Is in the United States?

The U.S. owns the most gold in the world: 8,133.5 tonnes, more than twice that of the next two countries: Germany (3,369.7 tonnes) and Italy (2,451.8 tonnes).

In 2018, U.S. gold mine production totaled about 210 tonnes, down 11 percent from 2017, according to the USGS. The estimated price tag of all that gold was $8.6 billion.

The USGS reports that about 18,000 tonnes of gold remain undiscovered in the U.S., with another 15,000 tonnes having been identified but not mined.

By far, Nevada reigns as the gold capital of the country. In 2018, mines in the Silver State produced 173.6 metric tons of gold, along with 249.2 metric tons of silver, according to the Nevada Mining Association.

When Might We Run Out of Gold?

In the U.S. and throughout the world, there’s still gold in them thar hills, to borrow an expression associated with the U.S. Gold Rush of the mid-1800s. But there’s really only a precious amount of the precious metal.

In 2015, investment bankers at Goldman Sachs speculated that the world’s mineable reserves of gold would run out by 2035. In fact, some experts believe the global supply of mineable gold will hit its peak in 2019 and trail off after that. Over the past three decades, the rate of gold mine discoveries around the world has tapered off.

Looking at the fourth quarter of 2018 alone, most gold miners reported declining production. The World Gold Council confirmed this fourth-quarter decline in their report “Gold Demand Trends Full year and Q4 2018,” noting that “the final quarter of 2018 saw gold mine production fall back from the record quarterly total achieved in Q3.”

Prominent mines that experienced a decline include Newmont Goldcorp, Barrick Gold Corporation, and Kinross Gold Corporation.

  • Goldcorp, the world’s largest gold mining company by market cap, reported a YoY decline of 2.5 percent.
  • Barrick Gold, arguably the second largest gold mining company in the world, reported a ~6 percent YoY decrease.
  • Kinross Gold, which claims to be a “senior gold mining company,” reported a decline of 6.5 percent YoY.

“The largest and most prolific reserves have already been found,” Matthew Miller, an analyst at CFRA Research, told the DW.com news website in early 2019. “Gold miners are struggling to grow reserves in line with their production.”

Australia, Canada, and the U.S. account for about 40 percent of worldwide spending on gold mine exploration.

“It’s fair to say that all the low-hanging fruit has been plucked,” John Ing, a mining analyst at Maison Placements Canada, told DW.com. “The miners will need to turn to countries such as Ecuador and some other places in Latin America or Africa, because places like Canada have been well picked over.”

Not everyone believes the world is on the verge of being depleted of gold, though.

“The world will never run out of gold; there’s millions of pounds of it in the ocean as gold ions,” declared a former sustainable technology professional, Josh Velson, in a 2017 Quora article posted on Forbes.com.

But, as Velson notes, it might be too costly to extract that gold from the ocean.

What’s more, it’s extremely unlikely that we’ll ever be able to create gold from other elements. The process requires nuclear reactions and is extremely cost-prohibitive. Most of the gold that’s created from other elements is radioactive and thus harmful to humans.

>> All this is to say, somewhere down the yellow brick road, could we be saying goodbye to the golden age of gold production? Download the latest Special Report to learn more.

Is It Time to Buy Gold?

Iron rusts. Aluminum is flimsy. Lead and copper corrode. As far as natural elements go, gold is among the only ones that can stand the test of time. That’s one reason, among many, that gold has been used as a currency and a store of wealth since the beginning of recorded history.

The supply of gold can’t last forever, especially given stressors in the mining industry. That means that there may come a time when you’re not be able to buy gold as easily as you can now. Think about it. Has there ever been a wrong time to own gold?

Download U.S. Money Reserve’s new Special Report to learn more about the world’s supply of gold, and potentially yours!

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