Gold has been mined in many countries, for about 7,000 years.
Today, you can still find small gold deposits in surprising places, but the list of big gold producing countries hasn’t changed a great deal in recent years, although their rankings have.
Here are the top 4 gold producing countries.
#1 – China
Gold production in China is increasing year by year. In 2010 they produced approximately 345 tonnes of gold.
#2 – Australia
Australia is in second position, with 255 tonnes. But its production is significantly down from its peak years in the late 1990s.
#3 – South Africa
How the mighty have fallen! Until 2006 South Africa was the world’s top gold producer, and had been for almost a century. Its output has fallen by some 80% over the last 40 years.
#4 – USA
Just a hair behind South Africa, the US extracts three-quarters of its gold from mines in Nevada. Total gold output from the US has now declined from its peak in1998.
Behind the US come other gold producers like Russia, Canada, Peru and a host of minor players.
As you may have noticed from some of the figures above, most of these top producers are seeing their production levels fall.
For the big picture, look at the trends on this chart.
That’s right, world gold production is significantly down. Within the context of the recent surge in interest in gold bullion, this shrinking supply is going to put upward pressure on prices. Put simply, when more buyers are chasing diminishing supplies, it’s inevitable that the price of gold will rise.
Historically, you might be surprised by where gold was found and mined.
We’re pretty familiar with where gold is mined today. And historically, we remember that the Spanish once sent a lot of ships over to get their hands on gold from Central and South America.
But did you know that a lot of gold used to be mined in Europe?
Let’s go way back to the second century AD, when the Roman Empire was still the dominant power in Europe.
Back then, the biggest gold producer in the region was Romania, which was then called called Dacia. The Romans and Dacia were at war, and during what is described as the second of their wars, the Romans won and found a very cleverly hidden stash of gold.
How much gold did the Romans find and haul away? It is estimated that they took 165 tons of gold and 300 tons of silver. That’s an astonishing amount.
They didn’t find it all, and during the period immediately after the war, a number of Dacians became inexplicably rich. Even the Austrians got wind of the news that there was still plenty of gold lying around, and their finds were then used to put up some lavish buildings in the city we now know as Vienna.
What’s the point of this history lesson?
Well, the point is that gold runs out. Countries that were big producers centuries ago are no longer mining gold today.
And today’s big producers seem to be running out of mines that are economical to run.
Is the world running out of gold? Probably not. But production is down, and the lower the volume of gold being mined globally, the bigger the pressure of gold prices.