Gold is one of the highly sought-after metals in the world because of its worth and variety of uses. The precious metal is used in several ways: as a physical store of wealth by central banks, financial institutions, private investors etc; used in jewelry-making and medals; used in a wide range of electronic applications due to its high conductivity; for space exploration and other industrial purposes; and in medicine and dentistry. For most investors, gold is safe-haven investment due to the metal’s ability to maintain its value in times of global shocks and to hedge against inflation.
Global gold demand and consumption is on the rise. Generally, there are three broad categories of gold demand: Jewelry, industry and investment. According to estimates made by the U.S. Geological Survey, jewelry accounted for 47% of global gold consumption in 2022; physical bars 17%; 20% went to central banks and other institutions; official coins and medals and imitation coins consumed 9%; 6% in electrical and electronics; and 1% for other uses.
Gold production is a major business around the world, with the metal produced in over 40 countries. Based on data from the U.S Geological Survey, an estimated total of 3,100 tonnes of gold were produced worldwide in 2022. Out of this, the world’s top 10 gold-producing countries produced 1,910 tonnes equivalent to 61% of the global gold production. China, Australia and Russia alone contributed about 31% of the total global production. The largest gold producing countries in the world are not that far apart in their levels. Throughout, history countries like the United States, Australia and Russia have interchangeably ranked as largest gold producers in the world.
Since 2007, China has become a strong force to reckon with in gold production. In the latest report by U.S Geological Survey, China remains the world’s number one gold producing country, a position held for more than a decade. The country produced an estimated 330 tonnes of gold, which is a slight increase of the 2021’s production of 329 tonnes. The country is also the world’s leading consumer of gold jewelry.
In second place after China are Australia and Russia, both with 320 tonnes of gold production. Whilst Russia recorded no change in production as compared to the previous year’s production, Australia’s production went up by 5 tonnes, producing 315 tonnes in 2021.
Maintaining its fourth position is Canada with an estimated 220 metric tonnes of gold produced in 2022. This represents a decline by 3 tonnes of the 2021 production of 223 tonnes.
After recording a successive decline in gold production, the United States of America stands as the fifth largest producer of the metal with an estimated 170 metric tonnes of gold produced in 2022. This is a reduction in the country’s gold production by 17 metric tonnes of the previous year’s production of 187 metric tonnes.
Mexico and Kazakhstan are sixth on the list both with 120 metric tonnes of production in 2022. In comparison to the previous year, Mexico’s production remained unchanged whilst Kazakhstan recorded a production increase of 4 metric tonnes.
South Africa is eighth on the list with an estimated gold production of 110 metric tonnes in 2022 after producing 107 metric tonnes in 2021. This makes South Africa the highest gold producing country in Africa ahead of Ghana which produced an estimated 90 metric tonnes of gold in 2022.
Peru and Uzbekistan share the ninth position with both countries producing an estimated 100 metric tonnes of gold in 2022. Peru’s gold output indicates an increase in production by 3 metric tonnes of their gold output in 2021 whilst Uzbekistan’s production remained unchanged from their 2021 output.