In 2014, global gold production increased by 2 percent from the previous year, according to a January 2015 US Geological Survey (USGS) report.
While China kept its place as the world’s single-largest producer of gold, it was certainly not the only country to contribute to last year’s growth. Production increases took place in that country, as well as several others, including Australia, Canada, the Dominican Republic and Russia. This swelling of production outweighed some of the dips that other countries experienced, such as Peru, Tanzania, South Africa and the US.
Here are the world’s top gold-producing countries from 2014, as reported by the USGS.
Mine production: 450 metric tons
China’s gold output continues to grow, and the country kept the top spot for the eighth year in a row, Reuters reported. Last year, China’s production grew over 5 percent, hitting about 450 metric tons.
In addition to being the largest producer by a significant margin, China is also the world’s biggest consumer of gold, with consumption reaching approximately 886 metric tons in 2014. Though that’s a considerable number, it’s actually down 24.7 percent from 2013. “Although 2014 gold consumption fell by a large margin, the (longer-term) trend of increasing demand has not changed,” the China Gold Association noted.
Mine production: 270 metric tons
Australia’s growth in gold production for 2014 put the country in the number-two spot for the year, reaching approximately 270 metric tons. That represents an increase from the 2013 level and is the highest production rate by the country since 2003. While growth was strong all year, production reached a high of 73 metric tons for the fourth quarter.
However, the Australian dollar exchange rate declined 25 percent over the course of the year, while the gold price fell about 37 percent in US dollars. As a result, many producers mined their richest deposits to maintain a profit in a practice known as “high grading.”
“Superficially, the figures give the impression of a healthy and vibrant industry but you need to dig a little deeper to get the whole picture. It’s not all good news,” Sandra Close, director for Surbiton Association, told Reuters. “The downside is higher grades certainly lift production but lower grade material left behind for another day becomes uneconomic, so mine-lives are shortened.”
Mine production: 245 metric tons
Russia saw a significant rise in gold production in 2014, leading the country to surpass the US for the first time in 25 years, RT reported. According to a report from Russia Beyond the Headlines, the country’s production increased 27 percent in the first half of 2014 alone.
Sergey Donskoy, minister of Russian Natural Resources and Environment, said 270 mineral deposits were discovered in Russia over the past five years, even though the country is not considered a leader in mineral exploration investment. “This, in our opinion, has negative consequences, including a negative impact on the social and economic development of the regions,” Donskoy said.
4. United States
Mine production: 211 metric tons
While gold production dropped about 8 percent from 2013, the US still made the latest list of top 10 gold-producing countries, putting out about 211 metric tons of the yellow metal last year. The country has about 45 lode mines, a few large placer mines in Alaska and numerous small mines in Alaska and other western states. Of these operations, 30 produced more than 99 percent of the total amount mined. Interestingly, Mining Global reported that there’s a trend of gold mining companies earning more money from US -based mines than from operations anywhere else in the world.
Mine production: 160 metric tons
Canadian gold production rose about 35 metric tons from 2013 to reach 160 metric tons, according to the USGS. After a year of losses, the Canadian gold production industry shifted its focus from production growth to mining cost reductions and capital spending cuts. Those reductions were able to push Canada into a largely stable year, according to the Financial Post.
Mine production: 150 metric tons
Peru’s gold production decreased slightly in 2014, totaling 150 metric tons. This drop was due to several factors, including lower-than-expected production from aging mines as well as government crackdowns on illegal mining operations, Reuters reported. In fact, Peru’s deputy mines minister, Guillermo Shinno, told the publication that gold output will continue to drop until 2016 as a result of that effort — the county will require an estimated 200,000 informal gold miners to register and be regulated.
“These are very strong production drops,” Shinno told the source. “This has definitely impacted gold production, but we hope it will change as miners are formalized.”
7. South Africa
Mine production: 150 metric tons
South African gold production has been on the decline for some time. The country produced 150 metric tons in 2014, down 10 metric tons from 2013, as per the USGS. However, according to Forbes, this decline is not surprising. South Africa produced roughly 64 percent of the world’s gold in 1983, but currently the country accounts for about 6 percent. Labor strikes, a lack of new discoveries and older, deeper mines are some of the factors accounting for the country’s drop in production.
Mine production: 102 metric tonnes
Gold production in Uzbekistan increased 4.1 percent from 2013 to 2014. The country has long been producing from old mines, and has not seen much exploration investment. However, investments in gold and uranium exploration increased 25 percent in 2013.
Mine production: 92 metric tons
Mexico dipped slightly in gold production for 2014, producing 92 metric tons of the metal. However, this decrease went against the trend that Mexico has seen over the past decade — there have been numerous discoveries and mine developments that have attracted a great deal of attention and have led to a more than four-fold increase in production in Mexico.
Mine production: 90 metric tons
Rounding out the list, Ghana’s production stayed stable over the course of 2014, totaling 90 metric tons. To be sure, there were concerns that production in the country would drop significantly, as according to Bloomberg, falling prices caused several mines to suspend operations. However, the country’s year-end output was slightly higher than expected. Still, the story may be different for 2015.
“We will definitely record lower volumes this year,” Daniel Krampah, assistant manager of financial analysis for Ghana’s Minerals Commission, told the news outlet. “Some companies have placed their mines under care and maintenance.”
(October 16, 2012)
2011 Top 10 Gold Producing Countries
This article is an update of a June 2012 article. Updated information includes central bank reserves for each country.
Gold’s admirers are diverse, and so are the locations where it is mined. The metal is produced in more than 90 countries, but some nations earn recognition for being top producers. In 2011, over 1,800 tons of gold were mined in 10 countries. These top producing nations, which span four continents, including both emerging and developed nations, are listed below.
Mine production: 355 tons
China can be called the nation of gold. It is not only the top consumer of the the yellow metal, but also the top producer of gold, a crown it swiped from South Africa in 2007. China hardly appears at risk of being dethroned from that number one spot. Its gold production exceeded 300 tons in 2011. Through August 2012, national production was reported at 249.7 tons, a year-on-year increase of over 10 percent.
China National Gold Group claims to be the country’s largest producer, crediting itself with 20 percent of China’s gold output. According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), China has 1,900 tons of gold reserves. Shandong is the leading province for gold production and within its boundaries Zhaoyuan, which reportedly produced over 28 tons of gold in 2011, is the top gold-producing city.
China’s official gold holdings are 1,054.1 tons or 1.7 percent of total foreign reserves.
Mine production: 270 tons
Australia’s gold production rose in 2011 from the 261 tons reported in 2010. Though gold can be found across the nation, about two-thirds of its gold production comes from the state of Western Australia. That is where the world-class Super Pit at Kalgoorlie is located. Consisting of numerous mining operations, and once called the Golden Mile, this landmark site was converted into Australia’s largest open-pit mine and is owned by Newmont Mining (NYSE:NEM,TSX:NMC) and Barrick Gold (NYSE:ABX,TSX:ABX).
Australia possesses about 11 percent of the world’s economic demonstrated resources of gold, according to Geoscience Australia. The USGS reports Australia’s reserves as 7,400 tons. Gold is a leading exploration draw, ranking second in this category of expenditure. The yellow metal is also among the country’s top 10 exports, raking in about $14 billion per year.
Australia’s official gold holdings are 79.9 tons or 9.3 percent of total foreign reserves.
Mine production: 237 tons
A rise in gold production in 2011 from 231 tons in 2010 marked the second consecutive annual increase in the US. A portion of last year’s increase is attributed to the restarting of mines in the states of Montana and Nevada. The vast majority of the gold produced in this nation comes from Nevada, home of the Carlin trend. Newmont has renowned operations in the region, including 14 open-pit mines and four underground mines that operate as an integrated unit, employing various processing methods.
Mined production of gold in the US in 2011 was about $12.2 billion. The US has 3,000 tons of gold reserves.
Official US gold holdings are 8,133.5 tons or 75.4 percent of total foreign reserves. The US has the largest official holdings in the world.
Mine production: 200 tons
Russia’s gold production in 2011 rose by 8 tons from 192 tons mined in 2010. Though Russia is fourth in terms of production, the nation ranks second in explored reserves. According to the USGS, the nation has 5,000 tons of gold reserves. The nation’s most prolific gold regions are Siberia and the Far East. Polyus Gold International (LSE:POLG), which claimed the title of top producer in Russia in 2011, operates in both areas. Vitaly Nesis, CEO of Polymetal International (LSE:POLY), recently said that Russia has the best prospects for gold mining globally, but also said the industry is “shackled.” He blamed poor regulation for hampering development and production expansion.
Russia’s official gold holdings are 936.7 tons or 9.6 percent of total foreign currency. Russia is the only nation on the top producers list with official gold purchases reported by the World Gold Council this year. Through August Russia bought 57.6 tons.
Mine production: 190 tons
Centered on the list is Africa’s top producer. From 2010 to 2011 production in this nation was virtually flat, rising a single metric ton, or 0.5 percent. Though South Africa is no longer the king of the gold-producing nations, it has the most gold resources as well as the world’s largest deposits (in Witswatersrand). The USGS places reserves at 6,000 tons.
Still, the nation’s gold production has been on a downward slope for years. Through May, production declined over 10 percent compared to the same five-month period last year. Aggravating matters further in 2012, labor unrest has plagued the mining industry. Last month, about 39 percent of the nation’s gold production was halted by striking workers.
South Africa’s official gold holdings are 125 tons or 13.4 percent of foreign reserves.
Mine production: 150 tons
Peru experienced gold production declines in 2011. Gold production in 2010 was 164 tons. Still, Peru is the home of Minera Yanacocha, which has three active open pits and is the largest gold producer in Latin America. The nation’s gold reserves are 2,000 tons.
Peru’s official gold holdings are 34.7 tons or 3.2 percent of total foreign reserves.
Mine production: 110 tons
Like its southern neighbor, Canada has seen its gold production increase in the last year. In 2010, mined production only totaled 91 tons. The majority of the country’s gold comes from Ontario, which is the home of Goldcorp’s (NYSE:GG,TSX:G) Red Lake gold mine. About half of the country’s annual gold production comes from Red Lake. Gold reserves as estimated by the USGS are 920 tons, the lowest among the top 10 producers.
Canada’s official gold holdings are 3.4 tons or 0.3 percent of total foreign currency reserves.
Mine production: 100 tons
In 2011, Ghana’s gold production rose, up from 82 tons in 2010. Once known as the Gold Coast, this West African nation is the continent’s second-largest gold producer. The country’s largest mine, Tarkwa, is operated by Gold Fields (NYSE:GFI). Ghana’s gold reserves according to the USGS are 1,400 tons.
Official gold holdings are 8.7 tons or 10.2 percent of foreign reserves.
Mine production: 100 tons
Indonesia is an archipelago of 17,508 islands in Southeast Asia. Despite its diverse geography, Indonesia’s gold resources are concentrated in a handful of mineral districts. One of the most notable is Grasberg, which hosts the world’s largest gold mine. Though it ranked equally with Ghana for production in 2011, that level of output is a decrease for Indonesia, which produced 120 tons in 2010. The nation’s gold reserves as reported by the USGS are 3,000 tons.
Indonesia’s official gold holdings are 73.1 tons or 3.6 percent of total foreign reserves.
Mine production: 90 tons
The world’s tenth-largest gold producer is Uzbekistan, a landlocked nation carved out of the former Soviet Union. The gold mining industry is dominated by state-owned Navoi Mining and Metallurgical Combinat, which is responsible for 80 percent of Uzbekistan’s gold production. Navoi Mining’s key asset is Muruntau, the world’s largest open-pit mine; its reserves are expected to last until about 2032. The country’s gold reserves according to the USGS are 1,700 tons
The World Gold Council has not reported official gold holdings for Uzbekistan.
Securities Disclosure: I, Michelle Smith, own shares of Goldcorp.