ANIMATION: Top 20 gold producing countries
World output of gold in 2019 showed the first decline in a decade, falling by 28 metric tonnes to 3,533 tonnes or 113.6 million troy ounces. The decline came after relentless growth in primary gold production – 730 tonnes or 23.5m ounces since 2010, according to London-based mining and metals consultants Metals Focus and the World Gold Council.
China is in danger of losing its no 1 ranking over the next few years – the country lost 20 tonnes of production while Russia added 34 tonnes or 1.1m ounces in a single year, shrinking the gap to 53.7 tonnes. A number of large new mines, like Sukhoi Log in the country’s east, are in development to take the country to the top spot.
Russia overtook Australia in 2019 to take the number two spot, but the country also has an ambitious pipeline of new projects and like Russia, covid-19 did not impact production or project development significantly in 2020.
South Africa ranked number one in the world for a century before losing the top spot to China in 2007.
At its peak in the late 1960s, the gold fields of South Africa produced more than a 1,000 tonnes, double the output of the rest of the world combined. Last year the country’s output fell to 130 tonnes, giving up its crown as top producer on the continent to Ghana.
Gold bullion. Photo by Vitaly Smolygin, Public Domain.