Gold Producing Countries

Gold is one of the rarest elements in the world. Gold is estimated to make up about 0.003-0.004 parts per million of the earth’s crust. It means that, gold occurs in it about 19 times less frequently than silver and 15 thousand times less frequently than copper. In 2017, global gold mine production was 3,305 tons. That supply was mined in many locations (that geographical dispersion is one of the reasons why gold was historically used as money). But what countries produce the most gold?

For many years, South Africa has been the world’s dominant gold producer, but it’s no longer the case. The top producer is China. According to the World Gold Council, the middle kingdom produced 429 tons in 2017, accounting for about 13 percent of total global production. However, China is also the biggest consumer of gold, so the country’s mining output stays mostly in the country. And it’s not enough to satisfy China’s gold demand: the country has to import a lot of bullion – actually, China is one of the biggest gold importers in the world.

The second place belongs to Australia. The land down under produced 289 tons of gold in 2017, or about 9 percent of global mining output. In 2018, the mining production is likely to be larger, as a stream of new projects comes on line. And some analysts even speculate that the country’s all-time record of annual gold production of 314 tons recorded in 1997 might be exceeded soon. Most of Australia’s gold production comes from open-pit mines, but it is worth remembering that Aussie is a land of small-to-medium sized gold deposits.

Russia was the last on the podium, mining 272 tons in 2017 (more than 8 percent of the world’s production). The country is the major supplier of gold in Europe. However, one of the largest buyer of Russian gold is the nation’s central bank, which has been systematically purchasing bullion in recent years.

The USA is the fourth largest producer. In 2017, America produced 244 tons (about 7 percent of the global production). The country is also one of the largest exporters and importers of gold. But the most important link between America and the yellow metal is that the U.S. gold market is, together with the London gold market, the most important center for gold trading. Moreover, as the U.S. dollar is the world’s reserve currency and the major gold’s competitor, the U.S. developments are crucial for the gold market.   

Canada closes the top five. The country produced 171 tons in 2017, or more than 5 percent of the global gold production. Most of Canada’s gold comes from hard-rock underground and open-pit mines located in Ontario and Québec. In the mid-to-late 19th century, in Canada – but also in Australia or the US – gold rushes occurred. The most famous was probably Klondike Gold Rush, as this was where Scrooge McDuck made his fortune.

And what about other countries? In 2017, Peru mined 167 tons of gold, South Africa – 157, Finland – 130, Mexico – 122, while Guyana – 114. The top ten is presented in the table below, and the full list can be found here.

Table 1: Gold producing countries (top ten), according to the WGC

Gold producing countries (top ten), according to the WGC