The Top 10 Gold Producing Countries

March 11, 2024

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Machines mining for gold

Gold has been a source of fascination for humans for thousands of years. It’s used to make countless items, from jewelry to coins and, in more recent years, electronics. The precious metal is one of the world’s rarest elements and accounts for 0.001 and 0.006 parts per million of the earth’s crust. Despite this, gold production is a big industry, and countries all over the world have hundreds of gold mines.

While every country hopes to uncover large gold reserves, some regions are blessed with more of the yellow stuff than others.

In this article, we’ll reveal the world’s top 10 gold-producing countries.

1. China – 375 tonnes

China has 3,389 gold mining areas, which are managed by around 400 companies. Of these, the leading gold mining companies are the China National Gold Group (β€˜China Gold’), Shandong Gold, Zijin Mining Group, and Shandong Zhaojin Group.

Most of China’s gold mines are located in the country’s eastern region, particularly in the provinces of Shandong, Henan, Fujian, and Liaoning. Despite being the world’s leading gold producer, China has only the sixth-largest gold reserve in the world (2,235.39 tonnes).

2023 was one of the poorest years of gold production in China. In 2014 and 2015, the country produced 450 tonnes, and 453 tones in 2016. Since then, the gold production has been declining. A major reason is a lack of demand, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The country has also had a tightening of environmental regulations that have changed gold mining processes.

2. Russia – 324.7 tonnes

Russia is home to 127 gold mines and is the second-largest producer of the precious metal. Some of the leading gold mining companies include Olimpiada Mine, which produced an estimated 29.4 tonnes of gold in 2022, and Natalka Mine, which produced an estimated 12.6 tonnes in the same year.

The country was the world’s seventh-leading exporter in 2021, selling around 17 billion U.S. dollars worth to other countries. However, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Western sanctions have prohibited gold imports from Russia. Sales to the UK accounted for approximately 88% of Russia’s exports in 2021, but Russian gold exports to the UK have been halted since June 2022.

3. Australia – 313.9 tonnes

Western Australia produces 60% of the country’s gold, most of which occurs in primary deposits. This is where the gold is embedded in the rock. Comparatively, secondary gold deposits mean gold dust or fine grain needs to be flushed out of the rock. This happens when primary gold deposits wear down over millions of years.

Australia’s leading gold mining companies are Newcrest Mining, Northern Star Resources, and Evolution Mining.

Gold has been mined in Western Australia since the 1880s, although it wasn’t until the following decade that it became a serious industry. From 2021 to 2022, 36,087 people were employed in Western Australia’s gold mining industry.

4. Canada – 194.5 tonnes

In 2021, Canada’s gold production increased in several provinces, including Quebec, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador. However, in the same year, production fell in British Columbia, Alberta, and Nova Scotia.

Ontario and Quebec are the biggest gold producers in Canada. The provinces produced 70% of the country’s gold in 2021, 47% of which was produced in Ontario alone. Canadian Malartic Mine, a surface mine company in Quebec, is Canada’s biggest gold producer, followed by the Detour Lake Project in Ontario.

5. United States – 172.7 tonnes

The US has the largest gold reserve in the world, with 8,133.53 tonnes recorded in 2023’s second quarter. Not only this, but the US-Canadian company NewmontΒ was also the world’s largest gold production company in 2022.

Nevada produces the country’s most gold (139 tonnes in 2021), followed by Alaska (20 tonnes in 2021). Cortez Operations mine in Nevada was the biggest producer in the US, having produced nearly 27 tonnes of gold in 2021. In the same year, the US production value of gold was worth nearly $11 billion.

The California Gold Rush, which took place between 1848 and 1855, is an important period in the US’ gold history. The discovery of gold in the state attracted approximately 300,000 from around the country and the world. During this period, 340 tonnes was found in California.

6. Ghana – 127 tonnes

Ghana is Africa’s leading gold producer, producing 3% of the world’s gold. In 2011, the country produced just 87.6 tonnes, but this had increased to 117.6 tonnes a decade later. This increase is thanks to the expansion of existing mines, in addition to a reduction of the withholding tax on unprocessed gold for small mines.

Some of the leading gold production companies in Ghana include Gold Fields, AngloGold Ashanti, and Newmont (mentioned earlier). The AngloGold mine increased its production by 132% from 2021 to 2022.

While most of Ghana’s gold mines are operated by large, legal corporations, approximately 35% of gold is extracted by small mines, a large portion of which are illegal. This has led to large-scale deforestation and pollution of rivers β€” around 60% of Ghana’s rivers are polluted by illegal mining activities (including gold mining).

7. Peru – 125.7 tonnes

There are 127 mines located in Peru, the largest of which is Cuajone Mine, which produced 8.3 tonnes in 2022, and Yanacocha Mine, which produced 6.9 tonnes in the same year.

La Libertad, a region in northwestern Peru, had the largest production of gold mining in 2022. It was responsible for 33% of the country’s gold production. Cajamarca in Peru’s northern highlands was the second largest producer and accounted for nearly 20.7% of the country’s gold production in the same year.

As with Ghana, much of the gold mining in Peru is illegal. The production by illegal companies leads to deforestation, sediment build-up in rivers, and mercury contamination in nearby watersheds. Gold mining and production are banned in certain areas of Peru (such as the Tambopata National Reserve) to reduce environmental damage.

8. Indonesia – 124.9 tonnes

Indonesia has 127 gold mines, the largest of which is the Grasberg Block Cave Mine in Papua. In 2022, it’s estimated the underground mine produced 26.2 tonnes. Batu Hijau Mine, the country’s second-largest gold mining company, produced 22.9 tonnes in the same year.

Gold has been mined in Indonesia for over one thousand years. However, for the following centuries, gold mining was done on a small scale by individuals. It wasn’t until the Dutch colonial era in the mid-19th century that gold mining began to develop in the country.

9. Mexico – 124 tonnes

125 tonnes of gold was produced in 2022, the country’s highest figure since 2017. Sonora, which borders Arizona in the US, is Mexico’s largest gold-producing state. It accounts for around one-third of the country’s total gold production.

Although Mexico only ranks in ninth place for gold production, the country is the world’s largest producer of silver. It also produces a significant amount of copper and zinc. Around 75% of Mexico’s total mining companies are owned by Canadian corporations, including Penasquito Mine, which Newmont owns.

Mexico’s gold production faces some uncertainty as stricter environmental reviews and regulations look set to be introduced. For example, some open mines have been prohibited from further production due to their negative impact on water resources and local communities.

10. Uzbekistan – 110.8 tonnes

Uzbekistan, in Central Asia, has the world’s 14th largest gold reserve, with approximately 371.37 tonnes. The country is also home to the world’s largest open-pit gold mine and gold reserve: Muruntau in the Qizilqum Desert. Open-pit gold mining extracts gold from a giant hole in the ground and doesn’t require tunnels or other extractive methods.

The Muruntau pit, which was discovered in 1958, measures approximately 3.5 by 2.5 km, with a depth of around 560 meters. An average of 56.5 tonnes of gold is produced from this pit alone each year. Before gold was discovered, the area had been a source of turquoise since the Silk Road (an active trade route from the 2nd century to the 15th century) was used.

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