How Much Gold in the World
How would you answer if you were to estimate how much gold there is in the world? Millions of tons? Billions of tons? The truth may surprise you: There are about 158,000 metric tons of gold today—enough to fill about two Olympic-sized swimming pools! In terms of the total value, roughly $7 trillion worth of gold has been mined throughout history…but how much gold is there in the world?
How Was Gold Found?
Gold has been around for about as long as humanity. One of our first discoveries of gold might have even been traces found on a man’s teeth over 2,500 years ago. But it wasn’t until humans began panning for gold that we started to mine it on a large scale. It was hard work and slowed going—pouring water over sand or dirt collected from rivers and streams, then moving the ore to a place where a rock would crush it into small pieces. The resulting gravel was mixed with mercury, which dissolved any remaining gold particles while leaving behind everything else.
In the 1500s, Europeans figured out how to smelt copper, silver, and lead ores at higher temperatures.
Where is All the Gold?
According to Jim Rickards, a gold expert, approximately 147,000 tons of gold are left in the world. If you combine that with what is currently being mined (or produced) annually, it’s close to 200,000 tons per year. Now while we can’t be sure how much has been lost over time or found elsewhere in the world, mining experts suggest that only about 2% of Earth’s crust contains this valuable resource. But where does it all come from? And how much are we able to mine each year?
The most prevalent deposits are located in North America and Western Europe. For instance, Alaska held more than 1 million ounces of gold and was one of our country’s most valuable states at one point.
Where Does New Gold Come From?
The Earth’s crust is thought to be only a few parts gold per billion, but this amount has been slowly increasing. Although some gold was mined from the moon and Mars, most discoveries come from developing countries. Less than a decade ago, exploration teams found about 800 metric tons of gold per year; now, that number has risen to 1,400 metric tons per year – twice as much.
How Much Is Gold Mined Every Year?
In 2017, according to Metals Focus research, around 3,000 tonnes of gold were mined worldwide. Of this amount, nearly two-thirds were mined from Africa and Asia. A much smaller percentage was mined from Latin America and North America. If you marvel at how much gold is today, current estimates put it at between 155,000 and 190,000 tonnes. Estimates for how much gold remains to be mined range widely depending on what is considered viable reserves; some say between 60,000 tonnes and 400,000 tonnes remain at varying degrees of accessibility. But these calculations may be based on relatively old data. Gold price fluctuation is also making an accurate estimation difficult. Because it changes rapidly due to trade policies or market activity.
The Future of Gold
Since gold has been cast off as a currency and commodity for centuries, there is an enormous demand for gold. It’s said that about 16,000 metric tons of gold are scattered around planet Earth! That would make for a lot of bling. Of course, not all this amount is available in mining sources, but from what experts have determined, more than half of this amount can be mined by humans. And interestingly enough, there are discoveries all the time. We know this because some exploration companies have already found immense veins below our feet. That could contain trillions of dollars worth of gold – think Australia and Africa – where finding a single nugget weighing. Just five grams was considered rare before now.
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