Gold is a rare resource, how much is left now? How soon will we face gold exhaustion? So far, how much gold has been mined by mankind? This time, we will explain in two parts the total amount of gold that has been mined so far and how much gold remains.
The total amount and reserves of gold mined so far
Human beings now mine about 3,000 tons of gold every year. The total amount of gold that has been mined so far is about 100,000 tons. When placed in a standard-foot swimming pool, it can fill nearly 4 swimming pools; and the estimated existing storage underground is about 50,000 tons, and it is also put into the swimming pool, which can only fill about 1 swimming pool. If mining continues at this rate, it is estimated that gold reserves will be exhausted in more than ten years.
However, the reserves do not include gold that cannot be mined. That is to say, the reserves are limited to those that can be mined based on the current mining technology and in line with economic benefits. Gold that cannot be mined with current technology, or the cost of mining is not economically beneficial, cannot be called “amount of reserves” but only “amount of resources.”
It is theoretically possible to extract gold from seawater. Although the concentration is exceptionally low, the seawater contains trace amounts of gold.
As the earth’s surface is covered with a vast ocean, in terms of total amount, about 5 billion tons of gold can be extracted from the sea. If the price of gold continues to rise in the future and the technology continues to innovate, perhaps the era of extracting gold from seawater will come, and the future gold reserves are highly likely to increase.
Annual gold production
South Africa was originally the world’s number one gold producer, but due to domestic conditions, unstable power supply, and outdated mining equipment, the country’s output has declined year by year. On the other side, China has become the world’s largest gold producer in the past 13 years ago (2007). Its output is 1.5 times more than Australia, which ranks second, and its production has increased year by year, and firmly in the first place. However, due to environmental protection regulations, output has declined in recent years.
The following is a ranking of major gold producing countries and output in recent years:
4. United States
*The total global gold production in 2018 was 3,296 tons, an increase of approximately 910 tons from 10 years ago.
Next, let me list out to you the ranking of gold reserves in the world in recent years:
Australia ranks first in reserves, which ranks second in production; and South Africa, which has decreased production year by year, ranks second in reserves. China, which has the largest annual output, has about 2,000 tons of gold reserves, ranking ninth in the world.
About 1/3 of the total annual gold demand is recovered from the market.
In addition to precious metal jewellery and accessories, electronic products such as computers, digital cameras, and circuit boards in mobile phones are all gold-plated, and gold, platinum or silver are used on them. Only 5 grams of gold can be extracted from 1 ton of gold mine, but about 150 grams of gold can be recovered from the same 1 ton of mobile phone.
Metal that never disappears on the surface
Because the unique properties of gold are different from resources such as petroleum, there is no other solution that can dissolve gold except for aqua regia, a special solution made by mixing concentrated hydrochloric acid and concentrated nitric acid in a volume ratio of 3 to 1. And even after it is dissolved, it can revert to gold.
Utilizing this feature, the precious metal recycling industry dissolves and reduces the collected precious metal products, and then refines them to extract high-purity gold. Therefore, even if the gold in the ground dries up one day, gold will never disappear from the earth.