Gold Production by Country
When talking about gold production, we are primarily talking about gold mining; which country has the highest output of gold ore from their mines. This output is specifically within the home nation, and not including investments in foreign nations through a multinational corporation.
Many of these countries will have their own authorised and accredited refineries or mints to produce a range of bullion or doré (gold/silver mix) bars and coins for resale. This could be to national banks to form part of a nation’s precious metal reserves, or it could be to the wider public market, but this isn’t considered part of their overall gold production. Click here to learn more about Gold Mining.
Top 10 Gold Producing Countries
The following rankings for the top 10 gold producers are based on data published by the World Gold Council on June 24th, 2020 for the year 2019.
Please note that this data is issued on an annual basis, usually shortly after the beginning of the new financial year. Amendments will be made to this page as and when new mining data becomes available.
10) BRAZIL – 106.9 tonnes
In 2018, Brazil upped its output by 6.9% from 80 tonnes to just over 85 tonnes of gold. In 2019, this figure jumped to 106.9 tonnes according to the WGC and Metals Focus, but the US Geological Survey has it much lower at 90 tonnes.
Brazil's entry into the top 10 gold producers worldwide comes with some serious concerns about the preservation of the Amazon rainforest and the protection of indigenous people. Brazil has a bloody history when it comes to gold, with Portuguese colonists accidentally leading a gold rush in the late 1600s while in their pursuit of slaves, but there is still peril today with Brazil's far-right President Bolsonaro using his term in office to advocate for increased mining of resources in the country - even if it means using force to displace Amazonian natives and destroying swathes of the rainforest.
These conflicts are why the LBMA is so keen to clean up gold mining globally and deter artisanal mining in favour of sustainable, managed mines which abide by rules for safety, training, and environmental care.
9) MEXICO – 111.4 tonnes
Another year, another drop in production for Mexico. Gold output in 2018 was down on 2017, which was down on 2016, and so too is 2019 a drop from 2018's levels. S&P Global Market Intelligence forecast a drop to 101.73 tonnes by 2023, and 2019's data proves them correct so far.
The Central American nation is better known for its silver mining, but it has a long history of producing gold, stretching back over 500 years. Mexico’s future has potential – IF the country can curtail gang-related problems. Precious metal miners in the region have been subject to armed robberies and kidnappings, amongst other threats and challenges, but with modern mining technology opening up new avenues of wealth for the country, Mexico might find it cannot afford to miss out on expanding its mining operations.
8) SOUTH AFRICA – 118.2 tonnes
South Africa is one of the most notable gold mining nations in the world, but its gold production is slowing down fast. The country boasts the world’s largest gold resource in the form of the Witwatersrand Basin, but in the past decade it has been surpassed by several nations for output.
Gold makes up a huge part of the economy, but political and economic uncertainty have played their part in stalling South Africa’s gold industry, and despite the best efforts of the Minerals Council, South Africa is still struggling. Output of gold was down in 2017, 2018, and again in 2019.
At one time, South Africa was responsible for 15% of the world’s gold. That figure is now less than 4% of the global total. S&P's forecasting saw it reducing even further - to 122.8 tonnes by 2024 - but that figure has already been passed and 2020's data, accounting for Covid and power supply issues in the nation, could see South Africa potentially fall out of the top 10 gold producers altogether.
The Rand Refinery is South Africa’s best-known gold refiner, and the site – formerly a Royal Mint location – operated just outside the capital of Johannesburg, producing gold bullion coins primarily.
7) GHANA – 142.4 tonnes
Ghana is famously part of the Gold Coast region of Africa. Gold mining in the early 1990s accounted for over 20% of the world’s supply. Ghana's production has been incredibly consistent, with the West African nation adding a mere 0.4 tonnes to its output compared to 2017, and 0.9 tonnes less than 2016, but in 2019 the country jumped forward in production to 142.4 tonnes - up 15 tonnes.
The British knew about the gold-rich environment in Western Africa long before this, and with their colonial exploitation they mined nearby Guinea for vast quantities of gold ore. Modern production is funded by a range of international mining firms, most notably from Russia and China.
6) PERU – 143.3 tonnes
Peru is an unusual country. It has reliable precious metal reserves but unfortunately, due to its elevation, it is difficult to get machinery to the necessary sites but also to get the staff to the area. Even then, the altitude of some locations brings about difficulties with a lack of oxygen and subsequent fatigue.
Economically, Peru’s economy has been improving slightly over the past two or three years, which ties in with the very fractional increase in gold production between 2016 and 2017, but 2018's figures detailed a slight fall to 158.4 tonnes and 2019 was again sharper down to 143.3 tonnes.
5) CANADA – 182.9 tonnes
Canada is famous for dairy farming, timber, and mining, and the latter of these three had been going from strength to strength for the past few years...
In 2014, the country caught up with South Africa for gold production, and a year later it was ahead. Canada reported 163.1 tonnes of gold in 2016 and added another 8.1 tonnes in 2017, before surging forward with the 17.8 tonnes extra in 2018.
2019 saw a 6.1 tonne drop in output however, which goes against S&P Global Market Intelligence and their mining forecasts that Canada, like Russia, will increase gold production rapidly each year until 2023. With Covid-19 massively hindering mining in 2020, it seems unlikely that Canadian gold output will reach the 300 tonnes suggested by 2024.
Investors and collectors will probably best know Canada for its production of Maple coins. These are available in gold, silver, and platinum, and are produced at the Canadian Mint’s headquarters in Ottawa.
4) UNITED STATES – 200.2 tonnes
US gold output shot up from 229.1 tonnes in 2016 to 243.6 tonnes in 2017, but since then there has been a steady fall backwards in mining. 2018's figure of 210 tonnes took America back to 2014 levels to the surprise of many, but 2019's 200.2 tonnes is a gold output low not seen since 1987 - 34 years ago.
Last year's figures issued by the World Gold Council may have been contested by the US Government, who issued their data first, but in 2019 the figures synced back up again and similar contraction to around 190 tonnes is expected for 2020/21 due to Covid.
As of 2014/2015, the US had three of the top 10 largest gold mines in the world – Carlin, Goldstrike, and Cortez, and these are still significant mining sites today.
3) AUSTRALIA – 325.1 tonnes
Australia set a new gold output record in 2019 of 325.1 tonnes, though this was actually below the forecasted 332.8 tonnes. 2018 had also been a record year, with 317 tonnes, and before that the record was set at 314 tonnes in 1997.
The British historically took advantage of Australia's resources and established Royal Mint branches in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, and the latter is now the official bullion refiner for the whole of Australia – reporting to the regional government of Western Australia.
Gold output rose slightly between 2016 and 2017 – up from 287.7 tonnes – but enjoyed a much sharper increase in gold production for 2018, coinciding with rising gold prices. Analysts like S&P fear Australia may be running low on resources in the next few years however, and forecast a potential drop to 197 tonnes output and a slide down the top 10 gold producers list.
2) RUSSIA – 329.5 tonnes
Russia managed to leapfrog Australia in 2019, with gold mining output growing from 297.3 tonnes to 329.5 - an increase of 32.2 tonnes (9.78%).
Russia’s position is not surprising, given the country accounts for around 15% of the world’s total mineral production, though the country has been in the news more for its near-monopoly on palladium (and the subsequent short-supply price bubble) rather than its gold output.
There are many gold mines operational across the world’s largest country, and with President Putin’s goal of replacing the nation’s reserves with gold rather than US Dollar, growing the gold mining sector is a no-brainer for the Russian premier.
Gold output was up in 2017 from a total of 253.2 tonnes in 2016, and is up again for 2018 by 25 tonnes compared to 2017.
The Largest Producer of Gold
And the number one spot as the world’s largest producer of gold goes to…
1) CHINA – 383.2 tonnes
China's top spot at the largest producer of gold remained untouched in 2019, though their output did drop from 401.1 tonnes to 383.2 tonnes - down 4.47% from the previous year.
China is both the world’s largest producer of gold and the world’s largest consumer of gold, though considering it is the most populated country in the world it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that it wins out on the gold demand front. Some argue that China's dominance is due to involvement in gold mines in African nations such as Tanzania, and that their gold output is being counted directly as Chinese rather than other nations.
China overtook South Africa as the world’s largest producer of gold in 2007 and hasn’t been surpassed since. China’s gold production in 2017 was significantly down on its 2016 figure of 463.7 tonnes, and the lowest level of output since 2012’s figure of 413.3 tonnes, but the 2018 figure of 401 tonnes (404 tonnes reported in some news outlets) is a new low for China's current regime. The main culprit is the new anti-pollution law enforced by China, which has hit smaller gold miners and refiners who cannot adapt to the new regulations.
Like Russia, China's disputes with the United States of America (most notably the trade war) have seen economic turbulence. The country is looking to switch from US Dollar-backed reserves, and BullionByPost reported how China has begun to add to its national gold reserves since December 2018 – after two years of not buying and almost two decades of giving little to no information on the nation’s gold reserves.
This turbulence, plus general global economic slowdown, and then with the addition of the Covid pandemic, all explains why China's output has slowed down. 2020's figures will very likely be diminished as weak jewellery and industrial demand offset strong bullion demand, but 2021's recovery period could see a return to form for the nation.
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