2016 was an eventful year for gold. According to the most recent data from the US Geological Survey, the gold price rose about 9 percent year-on-year, while the Engelhard daily gold price fluctuated through several cycles.
The yellow metal’s lowest level came at the beginning of 2016, and it reached $1,372.98 per ounce, its highest price of the year, on July 6 after the UK voted to leave the European Union.
But while the gold price saw quite a bit of movement last year, production was steady. Global gold production came to 3,100 metric tons (MT) in 2016, the same amount as the previous year — that’s because an increase in production in Canada was offset by a decrease in Mexico. Keep reading to learn more about the largest producers of gold in 2016, based on numbers reported by the US Geological Survey.
Mine production: 455 MT
Once again, China was the largest producer of gold in the world, mining 455 MT in 2016. The country has now held that position for 10 years in a row. In addition to being the top producer of gold, China is the world’s largest gold consumer, and has been for four straight years, according to the World Gold Council. That said, gold consumption in China dropped 7 percent in 2016. The fall was the result of a higher gold price and strained supply in the fourth quarter.
Mine production: 270 MT
Gold production in Australia took a bit of a tumble last year, dropping from 278 MT in 2015 to 270 MT in 2016. The decline may have come because the country’s biggest gold producer, Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM), reported a drop off in production in 2016. The company noted that production from its Cadia operation was lower and said that it sold a mine in Papua New Guinea.
Mine production: 250 MT
Russia’s gold production held steady in 2016, but the country plans to increase output over the next decade or so; in 2016, it was reported that the country is planning to raise its annual gold production to 400 MT by 2030. According to the US Geological Survey, Russia’s gold reserves stand at 8,000 MT, second only to Australia at 9,500 MT.
4. United States
Mine production: 209 MT
US gold production dipped last year, dropping from 214 MT in 2015 to 209 MT in 2016. The drop in production has been attributed to lower mine production from mines changing ownership, and the closure of small-scale mines in Nevada.
Most of the gold in the country was produced at more than 40 lode mines, several large placer mines in Alaska and a number of smaller placer mines in the western US. The US Geological Survey also notes that the top 26 operations in the country were responsible for 99 percent of its gold output.
Mine production: 170 MT
Gold production in Canada rose noticeably in 2016. Last year, the country reported output 170 MT of gold, compared to 153 MT in 2015.
It appears as though gold production in Canada is only going to grow from hereon out. In February, Agnico Eagle Mines (TSX:AEM,NYSE:AEM) announced plans to expand an existing gold mine and develop another one in Nunavut; they are expected to become operational in 2019.
Mine production: 150 MT
Peru saw a slight increase in gold production last year, with output rising from 145 MT in 2015 to 150 MT in 2016. The country saw its lowest levels of production and exports in 2014, and has since made a slight recovery. However, illegal gold mining continues to be a struggle for the country.
7. South Africa
Mine production: 140 MT
South Africa’s gold production has steadily in recent years. In 2016, production dropped to 140 MT from 145 MT in 2015, and since 1980, gold production in South Africa has fallen 85 percent. According to Bloomberg, shrinking reserves, rising labor costs and frequent stoppages have all led miners to question whether they want to have a presence in the country.
Mine production: 125 MT
Gold production Mexico has stayed relatively stable over the last several years, although it dropped last year to 125 MT from 135 MT in 2015. Uncertainty with the gold price and maturing gold mines have created production challenges for the country’s gold operations. Still, there have been a large number of discoveries and mine developments in Mexico over the last several years, and those have allowed the country to remain a top gold producer.
Mine production: 100 MT
Indonesia’s gold production increased from 97 MT in 2015 to 100 MT in 2016. The Grasberg mine is the country’s largest gold mine; it holds 25.8 million ounces of gold as well as 26.9 billion pounds of copper. Grasberg has been in the news this year due to labor strikes and a conflict between its owner and the Indonesian government.
Mine production: 100 MT
Rounding out the list is Uzbekistan, which produced 100 MT of gold in 2016, down from 102 MT in 2015. The country’s Muruntau gold mine is one of the largest open-pit mines in the world. Uzbekistan has been producing from old mines for quite some time, and has not seen much exploration investment.
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This is an updated version of an article originally published by the Investing News Network in 2015.
Securities Disclosure: I, Sivansh Padhy, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.