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) INDONESIA – 100.9 tonnes
After a year's absence, Indonesia is back in the top 10 gold producers in the world. Gold output in the country rose in 2018 to 153 tonnes to pass the country's 2010 record, and earned them 7th spot in the top 10, but 2019's performance slipped back to just 92.3 tonnes and saw them fall out of the top spots amidst hot competition.
2020 was an odd year considering Covid-19, and Indonesia - with its established mines such as the Grasberg (pictured below) managed to reclaim a spot in the top 10 with 100.9 tonnes of gold produced.
The world's largest gold mine - the Grasberg Mine in Papua, Indonesia. Photo courtesy of Richard Jones & Flickr (Creative Commons license).
9) MEXICO – 101.6 tonnes
For the second year running, production has dropped in Mexico. Gold output in 2018 was down on 2017, which was down on 2016, and so too 2020 is a drop from 2019's levels.
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) UZBEKISTAN – 101.6 tonnes
The first time this Asian nation has made the top 10 gold production list, Uzbekistan is on a big push to climb the rankings and generate sizeable revenue from its natural gold reserves.
The main location being mined at present is the Muruntau deposit, in the Qizilqum Desert. This is the world's largest open-pit gold mine, with a depth of approximately 560m. For comparison, the Empire State Building is 381m tall, and the Petronas Towers in Malaysia are 451.9m tall.
Uzbekistani authorities aimed to produce around two million ounces each year, but 101.6 tonnes is actually 3.2 million troy ounces. Factor in technological improvements over time, and the growing skill and experience of the miners, and Uzbekistan could quickly find itself breaking into the top 5 producers in the next 2-3 years.
7) BRAZIL – 107 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. For 2020, the WGC has production actually fractionally up - at 107 tonnes exactly.
One of three countries in this list to buck the trend of a production decline, Brazil is a troubling case. Their entry into the top 10 gold producers worldwide came with serious concerns about the preservation of the Amazon rainforest and the protection of indigenous people. Brazil's far-right President Bolsonaro has used 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 - and environmental groups and activists have proven this to be the case in the months and years since Bolsonaro took office.
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.
6) GHANA – 138.7 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.
Production has fallen off due to Covid and safety protocols being enforced, but Ghana will be satisfied that it maintained a high position in the top 10 during 2020, and that it is the only African nation present in this list.
5) CANADA – 170.6 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 seemed unlikely that Canadian gold output would reach the 300 tonnes suggested by 2024 - and with a 12 tonne drop to 170.6 that seems the more likely outcome.
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 – 190.2 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 was a gold output low not seen since 1987 - 34 years ago.
Now at 190.2 tonnes, US mining firms will be eager to bounce back and resume production as quickly as possible - easier said than done in a pandemic however, especially when considering things like the Delta variant increasing infection rates once more.
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 – 327.8 tonnes
Australia added 2.7 tonnes onto its 2019 total production: not bad considering Covid, and surpassing what was a new gold output record in 2019 of 325.1 tonnes - though this was admittedly 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 is forecasting a potential drop to 197 tonnes output and a slide down the top 10 gold producers list. No such demise just yet though...
2) RUSSIA – 331.1 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%). In 2020, Russia has maintained its position AND is the third and final nation to increase production despite Covid.
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, up again for 2018 by 25 tonnes compared to 2017, and now has another 1.6 tonnes.
The Largest Producer of Gold
And the number one spot as the world’s largest producer of gold goes to…
1) CHINA – 368.3 tonnes
China's top spot at the largest producer of gold remains untouched based on 2020's data. Output has been in decline though; down from 401.1 tonnes to 383.2 tonnes in 2019, and down again now by another 14.9 tonnes - admittedly not through any fault of their own.
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) was a new low for China's current regime. The main culprit is the anti-pollution laws enforced by China, which hit smaller gold miners and refiners who struggled to 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.
As stated last year, 2021's recovery period could see a return to form for China, but 2022's data will more likely be the more impressive production figures and more likely the return to normality that the nation's leaders would want.
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