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How much gold has been mined?

The most recent estimate for how much gold has been mined was in 2019, and put the figure at 197,576 tonnes. Gold is almost impossible to destroy, but it can be reprocessed, reshaped, melted down and alloyed with other harder metals. Therefore, the total supply of gold available on this planet will remain virtually unchanged for the foreseeable future.

Getting a truly accurate estimate is not possible however, as gold can be lost over time and unofficial mining operations do not provide accurate (if any) reports as to how much they mine.

Graphic of all the gold that has been mined as a solid block.

How much gold has been found in the world?

It was estimated in 2017 that 190,040 tonnes of gold have been mined throughout history, with an additional 7,000 tonnes being mined in the following two years. Rough estimates put a figure of 54,000 tonnes of gold reserves still remaining below ground that could feasibly be excavated. If correct, these figures give a total of 244,040 tonnes of gold that will ever be available for use on Earth, based on current mining technology.

Graphic showing all the gold that has ever been mined on a football pitch.

All the gold that has ever been mined would cover a football pitch to the depth of just one metre.

If it were brought together, all the gold deposits ever mined would fill just a little over three Olympic-sized swimming pools. Another analogy is that all global gold ever mined would be only one metre high if spread across a football pitch.

The finite nature of precious metal mining is leading the growing calls for space mining; the idea that specialist mining vehicles should land on asteroids nearest to Earth to effectively farm them for gold, palladium, rhodium and other valuables. Current technology however means this would be too expensive to be financially viable, and will require new innovations before even being considered.

Mining production

The World Gold Council reports gold producers uncover on average 2,500 - 3,000 tonnes of gold every year. Of this, an average of 170 tonnes comes from the world’s largest mines in Witwatersrand Basin of South Africa.

In the second half of the 20th century, gold mining production grew enormously. According to the United States Geological Survey, 80% of all the gold ever brought above ground was mined since 1910, and about 50% of all the gold ever produced has been mined since 1967.

However, precious metal mining production has turned a corner and is now in decline. This is because exploration has failed to find new large deposits. In 2018, Ian Telfer - chairman of Goldcorp - warned that there may not be any more gold discoveries. This could mean the world will run out of gold for future mining. As the chairman said: ‘Are we not looking for it? Are we bad at finding it? Or have we found it all? My answer is - we found it all.’

At the same time existing deposits are being exhausted. Mines are therefore seeking to reduce their costs by using new technology to increase production efficiency from currently mined deposits.

Gold weight conversions

This article is based on metric tonnes. Metric tons of gold differ from the US ton (or short ton), and the British ton (or long ton). One metric tonne is approximately one third of a million ounces of gold.

Metric Tonne US Ton (Short Ton) British Ton (Long Ton)
Pounds 2,204 2,000 2,240
Kilos 1,000 907.185 1,016.05
Troy Ounce 32,150.7 29,166.7 32,666.7

  • Over 190,000 tonnes of gold exists above ground
  • 54,000 tonnes of gold is left below ground
  • Gold cannot be destroyed and the amount of gold in the world will never change