Usually, people don’t talk much about gold, but no state can do without it. With the projected crisis, the precious metal returns to the world stage as a main protective asset against economic shocks. We know about the gold rush of the second half of the XIX century. But why do people need gold in the XXI century? Why do most countries of the world still replenish their foreign reserves, although the gold standard’s age ended in the last century? Which are the largest gold reserves?
Indeed, times change, but the demand for gold remains. It still represents the basic financial reserve of any state. Uncertainty in the markets against a background of the coronavirus pandemic encourages investors to look for the least risky assets, and the precious metal is booming again.
TOP-10 countries with largest gold reserves
64% of the total volume accounts for the 10 largest gold-producing countries. Until 2006, South Africa was the absolute leader. To date, China has been the largest gold miner for over 10 years. However, no country has managed to reach the record production levels of South Africa- 1000 tons per year in the 1970s!
China has been maintaining leadership for 13 years in a row. It accounts for more than 13% of global production. The liberalization of the gold market, launched in 2003, contributed to foreign investors’ attraction, which increased production volumes.
According to the China Gold Association (CGA), 380 tonnes of metal were mined in the country in 2019. The indicator is high, but if compared in the dynamics, it is 5% lower than in 2018. This is due to the government’s tightening measures to combat environmental pollution.
According to the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation, in 2019, the volumes of gold production in the country increased by 9% and amounted to 343 tonnes. The production from the deposits brought 286 tonnes of them.
For the second consecutive year, the experts record an increase in the gold production in the RF. This was affected by the increased production of gold from the mineral raw materials, as well as the launch of the new projects. In particular, we are talking about the Sukhoi Log mine (Eastern Siberia), where there are over 1960 tons of gold (according to the calculations)!
Siberia, where the production is carried out from primary (more than 100) and placer deposits, remains the most important gold-bearing region. For many years, the latter held the first place in the world. However, their share in total production is gradually decreasing due to the depletion of deposits. According to forecasts, with an annual production of over 80 tonnes from the placers, this deposit will be exhausted in less than 10 years.
More than 50% of Australian export and 9.4% (315 tons) of the global production account for gold. 5 of the 20 largest gold deposits are located in this country.
As indicated in the government survey, in 2020, the country is planning to reach the maximum gold production in the country- 339 tons. However, a gradual decrease in production is expected in the coming years due to the closure of the old deposits. For information, in Australia, any person can mine gold after obtaining a private mining license.
According to the leading financial and analytical publication “The Thomson Reuters”, the United States has held fourth place in the top 10 countries with the largest gold reserves ranking for the last few years. Today, the mining is carried out in 30 states with a Nevada center, which provides about 80% of all American gold.
According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), gold mining in January-February 2020 froze at a low point of 17 tons because of many companies’ closure in connection with the coronavirus.
The state of Ontario and the neighboring Quebec are the main gold mining areas of the country. Canadian mines can’t be called large, but the country is gradually increasing the production volumes. How is that possible? First of all, due to the discovery of the new deposits and the construction of enterprises. Besides, Canadian companies topped the list of the most active buyers in the gold mining sector.
By 2019, the gold production and mining volumes in Canada amounted to 193 tonnes. The analysis center “Mining Intelligence Centre” predicts that by 2023, this figure will grow by 2.7% annually, and in 4 years, it will reach 236 tons. It is assumed that the launch of new projects will facilitate this.
Peru takes sixth place in the world with a production of 169 tons. According to the research of the analytical company “S&P Global Market Intelligence”, the gold mining in the country has reached its minimum since no new deposits have been discovered in the last three years.
Legal gold mining in Peru is carried out by 160 companies. At the same time, 15% of all mined precious metals is accounted for illegal activities. In Peru, the earnings from illegal gold production are twice as high as drug trafficking income!
After the development of the richest deposits, the level of gold mining in the RSA is decreasing year by year.
According to official data, there are more than 1000 mining enterprises in the country. The large goldmines (about 35) are concentrated in two provinces — Gauteng and Free State.
Indonesia’s official gold mining is 97 tons per year, while another 20 tons are mined illegally.
The world’s largest gold deposits, Grasberg and Batu Hijau, are located in Indonesia. At the Grasberg gold mine, daily production waste is 200 000 tons of dumps. They turn the whole forests into wastelands!
Gold production has been decreasing since 2017 because of stricter environmental controls.
The mining policy of the country is open to foreign miners. According to official data, 293 foreign companies (mainly from Canada and the USA) are working in Mexico now. Over 760 projects for the extraction and exploration of precious metals are being implemented with foreign capital participation!
The total share of foreign investments in Mexico’s mining industry is 60%, and in the exploration projects — 70%.
According to the analytical company “Thomson Reuters GFMS”, in 2014, 118 tonnes of gold were mined in the country at the expense of foreign investors, and the general level of metal production shows positive dynamics.
Ghana is the largest gold supplier in Africa. It closes the top ten of the world gold mining leaders with an indicator of 102 tons. 95% of all revenues of the country’s mining industry come from gold.
Foreign direct investment in gold accounts for over 50% of the total investment in the country!
More than 15 state companies and over 10 foreign companies work in the gold mining industry of Ghana. The largest goldmine of the country, “Tarkwa”, belongs to the South African company “Gold Fields” (90%) and the state (10%).
Who provides the worldwide availability of gold?
According to the World Gold Council, in 2019, the gold production in the world reached 3463 tons, about 44% of which account for China, Australia, RF, USA, and Canada.
In the face of financial fluctuations caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the price of precious metals increased by 7% (April 2020). At the maximum, its price was about $1747. And on the contrary, the production decreased (by 1%) compared to last year.
Why is that? From year to year, gold mining is becoming an increasingly expensive and technologically complex process. New locations are opened less and less often, and well-known places are exhausted.
Asia remains the leader of global manufacturing – it accounts for 22% of the total production. The real engine, China, brought it to the first place. Its government has passed laws to simplify the purchase of gold. Africa follows it (20%), Central and South America (17%), North America (15%), and the post-Soviet states – 14%.