ANIMATION: Top 20 gold producing countries – 2020
World output of gold in 2020 showed another decline, falling by 119.1 metric tonnes to 3,478 tonnes or 111.8 million troy ounces. The decline came after relentless growth in primary gold production – 822 tonnes or 26.4m ounces between 2010 and 2018, 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 95 tonnes of production since peaking in 2016 while Russia added nearly 70 tonnes since then shrinking the gap to 37 tonnes. Russia overtook Australia in 2019 to take the number two spot.
Covid-related disruptions at the country’s copper mines saw Peruvian output plunge by over 45 tonnes, dragging down the region’s net production numbers by 68.2 tonnes overall.
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 under 100 tonnes for the first time, giving up its crown as top producer on the continent to Ghana.
South Africa may slip further as West African output in Mali, Burkina Faso ramp up. Burkina Faso added 10.3 tonnes in 2020 making the country the world biggest gainer, followed by Indonesia where Freeport-McMoRan’s Grasberg expansion promises to turn the storied mine into the biggest gold mine (and number two copper producer) in the world.
Gold bullion. Photo by Vitaly Smolygin, Public Domain.