Global gold output is expected to reach 132 million ounces by 2023, and the top gold producing countries in the world will account for much of this increase

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Processing at one of the world's biggest gold producers (Credit: Barrick Gold/Facebook)

The unique properties of gold and its comparative rarity mean that it continues to play an important role in mineral markets – meaning there is significant opportunity for the top producing countries in the world.

Demand remains high for the precious metal, particularly in jewellery-making and as a relatively safe investment opportunity.

Many gold miners today are artisanal operators, often working in dangerous conditions to extract the valuable resource, although numerous large-scale operations have been established too, processing millions of ounces of the metal each year.

The latest figures from the US Geological Survey estimate worldwide gold production in 2018 to have reached 3,260 metric tonnes – a slight increase from the previous year.

Analysts have forecast global output to reach 132 million ounces (3,742 tonnes) by 2023.

Here we take a look at five of the top gold producing countries in the world.

 

Five of the top gold producing countries in the world

China

China produced roughly 400 tonnes of gold in 2018 – which was down on the previous year but still significantly higher than its nearest international rival.

The Asian powerhouse is also the world’s largest consumer of gold, and is estimated to be sitting on reserves of around 2,000 tonnes.

Gold production is majorly carried out in the eastern provinces of Shandong, Henan, Fujian and Liaoning.

China National Gold Group is one of the major gold producing companies in the country, and in April 2016 the company announced the acquisition of an 82% interest in the Jinfeng gold mine in China’s southern Guizhou province from Eldorado Gold.

The Jinfeng gold mine is an open-pit and underground mine, which uses Biox technology and a conventional carbon in leach circuit to produce gold doré – a semi-pure alloy of gold and silver.

Australia

With a gold production of 310 metric tonnes in 2018, Australia is currently second on the list of top gold producing countries in the world.

Some of the major gold mines in the country include Cadia-Ridgeway Mine, Northparkes, Mount Morgan Mine, Cracow, Queensland,  Carrapateena, and Challenger mine.

Australia is projected to have gold reserves of around 9,800 tonnes according to USGS data.

In August 2017, OZ Minerals said that it would go ahead with the construction of the Carrapateena copper gold mine in South Australia at a cost of $724m.

Russia

In 2018, Russia produced 295 tonnes of gold – which was an increase from the 270 tonnes mined in the previous year.

The country has estimated gold reserves of 5,500 tonnes, and is home to one of the world’s biggest gold mines, Olimpiada.

top gold producers in the world
Olimpiada gold mine in Russia (Credit: Polyus)

Owned and operated by Polyus Gold one of the biggest producers in Russia alongside Nordgold – the Olimpiada mine is estimated to contain proven and probable reserves of 28 million ounces.

The ore extracted from the mine is processed at three plants with a combined capacity of 12.2 million tonnes annually.

US

The US recorded a gold production of 210 tonnes in 2018 – representing a value of around $8.6bn, but also a decrease from 237 tonnes mined in the previous year.

The dip in production was attributed to lower output at mines in Nevada, Colorada and Alaska, as well as the shutdown of the Kettle River-Buckhorn Mine in Washington in 2017.

The country stands at fourth place in the list of top gold producers in the world.

Some of the major gold mines in the country include Carlin Trend gold mine, Goldstrike mine, Cortez gold mine, and Cripple Creek and Victor.

Newmont Mining, Freeport-McMoRan, Rosario Mining Company and Coeur Mining are some of the major gold producing companies in the US.

Canada

Canada increased its production of gold year-on-year in 2018 from 164 tonnes to 185 tonnes – placing it fifth on the list of top gold producing countries in the world.

Aura Minerals, Barrick Gold, Centerra Gold, and Goldcorp are some of the major producers in the country.

USGS data estimates Canada to be sitting on gold reserves of around 2,000 tonnes.

Brucejack mine and Hope Bay mine were new operations to commence production in 2017.