Gold has been making consistent gains in 2019 so far, reaching highs not seen in over three years.
The lowest price for gold this year came at the beginning of 2019, and the highest level came in August, as the US and China experienced greater-than-usual tensions. Additionally, global gold demand increased 4 percent in 2018, according to the World Gold Council.
Last year’s gold mine production worldwide was estimated to be approximately 3,260 tons, which is an increase from 2017’s 3,230, based on numbers reported by the US Geological Survey.
So what are the top 10 gold producing countries that contributed to that output? Read on for a rundown of each country and what you as an investor should know about investing in gold stocks as they are a product of global gold production.
Mine production: 400 MT
Once again, China was the largest producer of gold in the world, mining 400 metric tons (MT) in 2018. The country has now held its top position for over a decade. China’s production dropped by 40 MT in 2018, and the decrease is thought to be the result of increased environmental regulations.
According to the World Gold Council, China was the main engine of growth in 2018, despite witnessing a slowdown in Q4 as the trade war with the US and slowing economic growth rate weighed on demand and gold jewelry buying slowed last year as demand decreased by 3 percent,
Mine production: 310 MT
Gold production in Australia had another high-performing year, reaching 310 MT in 2018, up from 300 MT in 2017.
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 region is typically best known as one of the world’s largest producers of iron ore, the region 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: 295 MT
Russia was once again the third-largest producer of gold in 2018, with its output increasing from 255 MT in 2017 to 295 MT last year. Additionally, the country plans to increase output over the next decade or so.
In 2016, it was reported that Russia is planning to raise its annual gold production to 400 MT by 2030. According to the US Geological Survey, Russia’s gold reserves stand at 5,300 MT, just under South Africa at 6,000 MT and Australia at 9,800 MT.
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4. United States
Mine production: 210 MT
US gold production dipped slightly in 2018, falling from 240 MT to 210 MT. 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 99 percent of American gold output.
An assessment of US gold resources revealed that there are 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.
Mine production: 185 MT
Gold production in Canada rose marginally in 2018, allowing the nation to maintain its status as the fifth largest producer of the yellow metal.
Last year, the country reported output of 185 MT of gold compared to 180 MT in 2017.
Mine production: 145 MT
Peru saw a slight decrease in gold production last year, with output slipping from from 151 MT in 2017 to 145 MT in 2018. The country saw its lowest level of production and exports in 2014, and has since made a slight recovery.
Mine production: 130 MT
Ghana once again became a top 10 gold producing country when in 2018 it produced 130 MT of gold, up slightly from the output of 128 MT in 2017.
It is also worth noting that Ghana recently took the top spot as Africa’s largest gold producer. Moreover, the country hosts more estimated reserves than key gold-producing countries such as Peru.
Mine production: 125 MT
Mexico is another gold producer that saw a production increase last year, knocking South Africa out of the 8th spot to claim it for itself.
While Mexico was plagued by underwhelming gold prices and maturing gold mines that caused production challenges in 2017, the country was able to increase its gold production from 110 MT to 125 MT in 2018. Today, gold and silver account for more than 50 percent of the country’s total metals output.
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9. South Africa
Mine production: 120 MT
South Africa’s gold production decreased in 2018 compared with 2017, falling from 137 MT to 120 MT last year. The country’s gold output has fallen 85 percent since 1980, but it has been one of the world’s top gold producers for decades.
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. AMCU has held many protests and strikes at several gold and platinum mines within the last two years in the hopes of garnering more wages and stopping any merger between companies in which the union believed job loss would ensue.
Despite this, South Africa is currently estimated to have the world’s second largest quantity of gold reserves at 6,000 MT.
Mine production: 105 MT
Uzbekistan comes in tenth on the list of the largest producers of gold. The country produced 105 MT of gold in 2018, up slightly from 100 MT in 2017. The country’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.