Where does the world’s gold come from?

Mine output rose modestly by 1 percent in 2023 to 3644.4 tons, but it still hasn’t recovered to pre-pandemic levels.

Gold production had flatlined even before the pandemic. After slowing for several years, gold mine output fell by 1 percent in 2019. Although that year marked the first absolute decline in gold production since 2008, there has been a general trend of diminishing mine output.

Some analysts speculate that we could be close to “peak gold.” That is the pace of gold mining output will contract on an annual basis. This is due to the fact that the easier-to-access gold close to the Earth’s surface is quickly running out, leaving deeper veins of gold that are more difficult and expensive to mine. It’s hard to determine when we will hit peak gold due to technological developments that help find new deposits and make extracting gold less difficult.

But as long as gold is valuable, people will be digging it out of the ground.

Here are the top 10 gold producers in 2023:

1. China (370 tons) – China has led the world in gold production for many years. Mine output was up by 5.7 percent in 2023. It was the first increase in Chinese gold production for several years.

2. (tie) Australia (310 tons) – Gold production dipped slightly last year, falling by about 10-tons. Australia has the highest level of known gold reserves, estimated to be about 12,000 tons.

2. (tie) Russia (310 tons) – Russian gold output also fell last year, keeping the country tied with Australia for the number-two spot. Russia has historically produced much of the gold consumed in Europe, but the Russian government is the biggest buyer of Russian gold. Sanctions in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine stopped the flow of Russian gold into Europe. The country has sought alternative markets, particularly in the BRICS bloc. Russia holds the second-highest gold reserves, estimated at 11,100 tons.  

4. Canada (200 tons) - Canadian mine output was down by a modest 6 tons last year. Canada leapfrogged the U.S. to grab the #4 spot in 2021. Gold ranks as the nation’s most valuable mined commodity, with domestic exports reaching C$22.34 billion.

5. The United States (170 tons) – U.S. gold output was flat in 2023, dropping by about 3 tons year-on-year. U.S. mine output has fallen consistently since 2017. Nevada was the top state for gold production, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The state accounts for 73 percent of the U.S. gold production.

6. Kazakhstan (130 tons) - Kazakhstan mine production increased by 10 tons last year. The country wasn’t even among the top 10 gold producers in 2021. In 2016, Kazakh mines only produced 69 tons of gold.

7. Mexico (120 tons) – Mexican gold production was roughly on par with its 2022 output.

8. Indonesia (110 tons) – Indonesia upped its gold production by about 5 tons last year. Mining is one of the country’s most important economic sectors.

9. South Africa (100 tons) – The Witwatersrand Basin is one of the largest gold resources in the world, and South Africa once led the world in gold production, but output has dropped in recent years. Between 1980 and 2018 the country’s gold output fell by 85 percent. Some analysts estimate that at current production levels, the country has only 39 years of accessible gold reserves remaining. Nevertheless, mine output was up by 11 tons last year.

10. Uzbekistan (100 tons) – Uzbek gold production was flat in 2023. Uzbekistan has significant gold reserves, but mine output tanked after the fall of the Soviet Union. In 2019, the Uzbek government announced renewed investment in gold exploration and mining. The Muruntau gold mine is one of the largest gold operations in the world.

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