Over the past few decades, gold mining has become a truly global industry. Currently, there are 90 countries that mine the precious metal and the top 20 producing nations provide more than 75 percent of the world’s gold each year. In 2012, companies put out a total of 2,700 tons of gold, according to the US Geological Survey.
Gold enthusiasts will be interested to know that the top 10 gold producers of 2012 are the same countries as listed for 2011, although the order has changed slightly. Below are the top 10 gold-producing nations for 2012.
Mine production: 403 tonnes
Official gold holdings: 1,054.1 tonnes
China has now been the leading gold producer in the world for six years in a row. Its output grew approximately 11.7 percent in 2012, reaching a landmark of 100 times the nation’s 1949 production level, according to Forbes. It has also doubled its output since 2003.
Zijin Mining Group (SSE:601899), which reportedly produced 2,770,428 ounces of gold in 2011, is China’s biggest producer. The country’s official gold holdings, according to the World Gold Council, are 1,054.1 tonnes, or roughly 1.7 percent of total foreign reserves.
Mine production: 250 tonnes
Official gold holdings: 79.9 tonnes
The country’s primary gold assets are located 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 estimated gold reserves of 7,400 tonnes, according to Geoscience Australia.
The Super Pit is Australia’s largest open-cut gold mine. It produces up to 850,000 ounces of the precious metal each year and is operated by Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines (ASX:KMC). Australia’s official gold holdings amount to 79.9 tonnes, which is 8.5 percent of total foreign currency reserves.
3. United States
Mine production: 230 tonnes
Official gold holdings: 8,133.5 tonnes
The United States’ gold production declined by 4 tonnes in 2012 compared to the year before and was valued at $12.6 billion. One of the world’s top gold producers, US-based Newmont Mining (NYSE:NEM), delivered output of 4.98 million ounces of gold in 2012, through operations on five continents including two in North America.
The nation’s official gold holdings are the largest in the world at 8,133.5 tonnes, or 76.3 percent of total foreign currency reserves.
Mine production: 205 tonnes
Official gold holdings: 937.8 tonnes
Russia holds 5,000 tonnes of known gold reserves, according to the US Geological Survey. Production of the commodity increased by 6.8 percent year-over-year in 2012. The country’s official gold holdings are 937.8 tonnes; that makes up 9.9 percent of total foreign currency.
Primary Russian gold company Polyus Gold International (LSE:POLG) increased its gold production by 12 percent in 2012 compared to the year before, reaching approximately 1.68 million ounces.
5. South Africa
Mine production: 170 tonnes
Official gold holdings: 125 tonnes
In 2012, South African gold mine strikes caused output to drop. It was the country’s worst year of gold production since 1905, according to The Chicago Tribune. In 2012, South African gold output only amounted to roughly 6 percent of total production worldwide.
Johannesburg-based AngloGold Ashanti (NYSE:AU), the third-largest gold-producing company in the world, reported reserves of 74.1 million ounces at the end of 2012. Official gold holdings in South Africa are 125 tonnes, or 12.7 percent of total foreign reserves.
Mine production: 165 tonnes
Official gold holdings: 34.7 tonnes
In Peru, gold production declined by almost 3 percent in 2012. The country’s main gold-producing company is Compania de Minas Buenaventura (NYSE:BVN). Peru’s official gold holdings are 34.7 tonnes, which amounts to 3.1 percent of total foreign currency reserves.
Mine production: 102 tonnes
Official gold holdings: 3.4 tonnes
Canada saw a slight increase in gold production in 2012, but its output levels are still not as high as they once were. Official Canadian gold holdings are only 3.4 tonnes, or about 0.3 percent of total foreign currency reserves. Still, the country’s Barrick Gold (TSX:ABX,NYSE:ABX) had the highest production level of all gold companies in 2012 at 7.42 million ounces.
Mine production: 95 tonnes
Official gold holdings: 73.1 tonnes
Indonesian gold output sank slightly from 2011 to 2012 because illegal mining and political unrest created obstacles to project development, according to Reuters. The country’s total reserves of the metal are estimated at 3,000 tonnes and official gold holdings are 73.1 tonnes, which is 3.7 percent of total foreign currency reserves.
Mine production: 90 tonnes
Official gold holdings: Not reported
There are over 40 gold deposits in the country, according to the State Geological Committee of Uzbekistan. Its current reserves estimate is 1,700 tonnes and the government hopes to soon achieve 120 tonnes of gold production per year. Navoi Mining and Metallurgy Combinat (NMMC) is the biggest gold producer in Uzbekistan, with gold deposits valued at more than $500 billion. At this time, the World Gold Council has not reported official gold holdings for Uzbekistan.
Mine production: 89 tonnes
Official gold holdings: 8.7 tonnes
Ghana has an estimated 1,600 tonnes of gold reserves. Its production grew 17 percent from 2011 to 2012, primarily due to rising prices encouraging greater output. Official gold holdings in the nation are 8.7 tonnes, amounting to 8.4 percent of total foreign currency.