How Much Gold Is There in The World?

The comments below are an edited and abridged synopsis of an article by SchiffGold

The simple answer—not much. Scarcity is one of the characteristics that give gold value.

How Much Gold Is There in The World? - BullionBuzz - Nick's Top Six
gold inside rock (selective focus, no filters used)

As of year-end 2019, around 197,576 tons of gold had been mined throughout history. About 2/3 of that total was pulled out of the ground since 1950.

If you took every ounce of gold in the world and packed it into a cube, it would only measure about 21.7 meters on each side. That’s just a little over 71 feet, about as tall as a seven-story building.

To look at it another way, if you formed all of the gold ever mined into 400-ounce bars and stacked them on top of one another, the stack wouldn’t even reach the Statue of Liberty’s waist.

Since gold is virtually indestructible, almost all of that gold still exists. Gold mining adds approximately 2,500-3,000 tons annually to the overall aboveground stock of gold. Estimating how much gold remains in the ground is a difficult task. Analysts say known reserves total about 54,000 tons. What remains is increasingly more difficult to mine.

Mine output plunged in 2020 due to the pandemic, but gold production had already plateaued prior to Covid-19. After flat-lining for several years, gold mine output fell by 1% in 2019. Although that marked the first absolute decline in gold production since 2008, it continued a general trend of falling mine output. Gold mine production was up a modest 77.72 tons between 2015 and 2016, 33.92 tons between 2016 and 2017, and 28 tons between 2017 and 2018.

The recent slowdown in mine production is concerning. Some say we may be at or near peak gold, when the amount of gold mined will begin to shrink every year.

Whether we’ve reached peak gold or not, many analysts think the gold industry may be entering a long-term, possibly irreversible, period of less available gold. As mining companies find it more difficult to find gold, it will mean less gold for refiners to produce for the consumer market.

Even at current production levels, gold will remain scarce—and scarcity is an important characteristic that gives gold its value.

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