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Updated 20:06 01/03/21

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How much gold is there in the world?


Gold Bars Ideal for Investment

Until we have mined all the gold underground, collected everyone’s jewellery, every gold tooth, coin, bar and more we won’t be sure exactly how much gold there is in the world. Even then, we wouldn’t have accounted for all the gold in the sea, or inside our very own bodies.

The truth is that it’s not at all easy to know exactly how much gold exists on the planet. We have been mining it for as long as we have been capable but much still remains undiscovered, and who knows how much has been lost, buried, or destroyed over time?

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Despite this, we do have ways to make good estimates, and according to data from the World Gold Council, the figure is somewhere near 165,000 metric tonnes. This is, of course, very heavy and, weighing more than 20 billion gold Sovereigns, also worth a lot of money! However, with gold being more than 19 times denser than water, its weight is very compact and, relatively speaking, there isn't actually very much gold in the world at all. To put this into perspective, the total weight of silver above-ground, which is also considered a rare and precious metal, is believed to be around 1.4 million tonnes.

View the gold - silver price ratio

Estimates are often made as to how big a cube could be made if we amassed all the gold ever mined and melted it down. A cube of gold whose sides were one metre long would weigh around 19 tonnes, meaning that the 165,000 tonnes above ground would fit into a cube with an area of around 8,700 metres. To put that into perspective, that's just less than enough to fill 3.5 Olympic swimming pools.

Although we don’t know for certain how much gold is left to be mined, it appears as though we have already brought most of it up above ground and we will soon have mined it all. Estimates point to us having accumulated all the world’s gold above ground within the next twenty years.

This doesn’t include all the gold that can’t be accessed. The world’s oceans are in fact the biggest store of gold on the planet, but it is so heavily diluted by the incredible mass of water that we don’t have the means to harvest it in any meaningful quantity.

The sea contains approximately 20 million tonnes of gold. Unfortunately, the sea contains a lot more water than that and the average litre of water contains around 13 billionths of a gram of gold. That means it would take nearly 77 million litres of seawater to accumulate a gram of gold. That’s a gold Sovereign for every 616,000,000 litres. Needless to say, it will be a long time before gold in the sea can be included in our figures for how much gold there is in the world.

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This is why gold is so valuable and such an important investment. It is incredibly rare and can’t be artificially produced in any meaningful quantity. This means that it can’t be devalued in the same way as paper currency, which has no intrinsic value and is printed all the time.

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Related Links:

Density of gold | How is gold formed | Facts about gold | The biggest gold nuggets

Where does gold come from | Fool's Gold | Properties of gold | Gold mining in the UK