China, Australia and Russia are the largest producers of gold in the world, but which countries round out the list? Find out here.
The gold price has trended higher in recent years, even surging to more than US$2,000 per ounce in the summer of 2020, a level never seen before.
The yellow metal’s price gains have come on the back of uncertainty surrounding the global economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as political turmoil in the US and beyond.
These circumstances have left investors seeking the safe haven long offered by gold. So far gold production levels have seemed to defy pandemic disruptions, but rising inflation is likely to push up costs for miners.
According to the US Geological Survey, in 2021, gold mine production worldwide came in at approximately 3,000 metric tonnes (MT), which is nearly on par with the gold mined in 2020. Here the Investing News Network examines the world’s top gold-producing countries that contributed to this output last year.
Mine production: 370 MT
Once again, China was the largest producer of gold in the world, mining 370 MT in 2021, up slightly from 2020's 365 MT. The country has held its top position for more than a decade.
Back in 2018, China’s production dropped by 39 MT; the decrease is thought to be the result of new environmental regulations. According to the World Gold Council, China is the world’s leading consumer of gold jewelry.
Mine production: 330 MT
Gold production in Australia had another high-performing year, reaching 330 MT in 2021, up marginally by 2 MT from the previous year. Recent exploration activity in the Pilbara region of Western Australia has renewed interest and helped increase the country’s consistent gold output.
While the Pilbara area is best known as one of the world’s largest producers of iron ore, it is currently in the midst of increased gold exploration thanks to a major discovery in 2017 by Novo Resources (TSXV:NVO,OTCQX:NSRPF) and Artemis Resources (ASX:ARV,OTCQB:ARTTF).
Mine production: 300 MT
In 2021, Russia was once again the third largest producer of gold. The country’s output has been rising over the past few years, increasing from 255 MT in 2017 to 305 MT in 2020. According to Fitch Solutions, Russia is reportedly planning to raise its gold output in a bid to become the world’s largest gold producer by 2029.
According to the US Geological Survey, Russia’s gold reserves stand at 6,800 MT, the second largest gold reserves after Australia at 11,000 MT.
4. United States
Mine production: 180 MT
US gold production has been dropping over the past few years. In 2021, the US produced 180 MT, down by 20 MT from the previous year. Most 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 top 26 operations in the country were responsible for 98 percent of American gold output.
An assessment of US gold resources has revealed that the country has approximately 33,000 MT of gold in identified and undiscovered resources. Additionally, close to one-quarter of the gold in undiscovered resources can be found in porphyry copper deposits. Gold reserves in the US are estimated at 3,000 MT.
Mine production: 170 MT
For 2021, gold production in Canada was on par with 2020, allowing the nation to maintain its status as the fifth largest producer of the yellow metal. However, that figure is down from 175 MT in 2019 and 183 MT in 2018.
Ontario and Quebec are the largest gold-producing provinces in the country; together, they represent more than 70 percent of Canada’s gold output. The Canadian government states that gold is the nation’s most valuable mined commodity, with C$12.3 billion worth of the precious metal produced in 2020.
Mine production: 130 MT each
In 2021, Ghana took the position of sixth largest gold-producing country. Ghana’s gold production rose slightly by 5 MT from the previous year. It is also worth noting that Ghana is Africa’s largest gold producer, having overtaken South Africa in recent years.
7. Mexico, South Africa and Uzbekistan
Mine production: 100 MT
Mexico is a notable gold producer, tying with South Africa and Uzbekistan for the seventh spot. In 2021, Mexico’s gold output fell slightly to 100 MT. Gold and silver account for over 50 percent of the country’s total metals output.
South Africa has been one of the world’s top gold producers for decades, but between 1980 and 2018 the nation’s gold output fell by 85 percent. In recent years, South Africa has been hit with political strife, mostly due to conflicts between the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) and gold producers in the area. The AMCU has held many protests and strikes at several gold and platinum mines within the last few years in the hopes of garnering more wages and stopping any mergers that could cause job losses.
Uzbekistan’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.
8. Indonesia, Peru and Sudan
Mine production: 90 MT
Indonesia, Peru and Sudan are tied for eighth place on the list of largest producers of gold. Half of Indonesia’s gold production originates from Freeport-McMoRan’s (NYSE:FCX) Grasberg mine, the world’s largest gold mine, which is believed to contain the largest gold reserves globally.
Peru saw a slight uptick in gold production from last year, with output nudging up 3 MT from the previous year to 90 MT in 2021. Illegal gold mining continues to be a struggle for the country, and has been responsible for the devastation of land, including patches of the precious Amazon forest.
Sudan is new to the list of top gold countries, and its gold-mining industry is also affected by protests against environmental degradation and gold smuggling. In late 2021, a gold mine collapsed, killing 38 artisanal miners.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, currently hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
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