Here are the top ten gold-producing counties in the world, one of the rarest elements in the world, making up roughly 0.003 parts per million of the earth’s crust. But how much gold is the world digging up each year and what countries produce the most?
In 2019, global gold mine production was a reported 3,463.7 tonnes – down one percent from the year prior – and the first year-over-year decline in output since 2008. Gold production has remained relatively steady since 2010, raising the question I’ve explored over the years – have we reached peak gold?
The idea is that all the easy gold has already been discovered and explorers have to dig deeper to find economically viable deposits. For example, South Africa was once the top gold-producing country by far, digging up over 1,000 tonnes in 1970, but annual output has fallen steadily since. On the other hand, several nations have emerged in the last few years as growing gold producers.
As seen in the chart below, China takes the number one spot of global gold producers by a wide margin. The top 10 rankings saw a big shift in 2019 – Russia took the lead over Australia to claim second, Indonesia fell off the list and Brazil joined the ranks as the tenth-largest producer. Ghana also jumped ahead of South Africa to become the continent’s top producer.
Below are more details on the top 10 countries with the largest gold production in 2019, beginning with the top producer and top consumer of bullion, China. All data is from the World Gold Council.
1. China – 383.2 tonnes
For many years, China has been the top-producing nation, accounting for 11 percent of global mine production. However, production fell from nearly 400 tonnes last year, representing the third consecutive year of declines. The downtrend is largely due to tighter environmental policies imposed by the government. For example, stricter control over the use of cyanide at gold mines forced several operations to cut back production.
2. Russia – 329.5 tonnes
A massive 83 percent of European gold comes from Russia, which has been increasing its production every year since 2010. Russia took the lead over Australia to become the world’s second-largest producer – mining 50 tonnes more in 2019 than the year prior. Who is the largest buyer of Russian gold? The Russian government, of course, purchases around two-thirds of all gold produced locally.
3. Australia – 325.1 tonnes
Australia has posted seven consecutive years of increases in production, up by 4 percent in 2019. The minerals industry produces over half of Australia’s total exports and generates about 8 percent of GDP. Higher production at several mines and the ramp of projects such as Mount Morgans and Cadia Valley contributed to increased production.
4. United States – 200.2 tonnes
American gold output fell by 11 percent in 2019, ending five consecutive years of growth. Twelve states produced the gold, worth about $8.9 billion and accounting for 6.1 percent of the global total. Around 78 percent of gold produced in the U.S. is from Nevada. If the state was considered a country, it would be number six on this list with 173.6 tonnes mined in 2019.