How Much Gold is in the World?

29 Aug
gold bars stacked in a pyramid

How Much Gold is in the World?

One of the reasons why gold is such a prized commodity is that it’s a limited resource. Unlike paper money, it can’t be printed in mass. 

Additionally, gold is impossible to reproduce in a lab. The only way to get more gold is to mine it or buy what already exists.

According to Smithsonian Magazine, gold is one of the rarest elements in the world, making up roughly 0.003 parts per million of the earth’s crust. Gold has incredible longevity compared to other precious metals, which is one reason it has been used as a currency since the beginning of recorded history and retains value today.

Global gold output has been contracting since 2013, Business Insider reports. If the downward trend of gold production continues, gold’s value is certain to increase.

If you’re a gold investor or have thought about investing in gold, this article walks you through just how much gold is in the world.

To request information on gold investments, contact RME Gold.

How Much Gold Is Left in the World?

Because gold is virtually indestructible, the same amount that has been mined is estimated to be what is in the world today. The World Gold Council breaks down how much gold is in the world into the following categories of total above ground stocks:

  • Jewelry: 90,718 tonnes
  • Private investment: 40,035 tonnes
  • Official sector: 32,575 tonnes
  • Other: 26,711 tonnes

Altogether, if all gold was placed next to each other, the cube of pure gold that’s created would measure around 21 meters on each side.

There may be more gold out in the world than these figures reflect. There are a couple of factors that might mean there is more gold around than what is currently measured.

One is inaccurate reporting caused by “artisanal” mining. This is mining that might be done in remote locations, which is not reported to the world’s formal corporate mining structure.

For example, according to NPR, gold mining companies in South Africa are in the midst of a 20-year decline in production. However, illegal mining is thriving in South Africa, where gold is sold on the black market.

Another factor that may mean there is more gold out there is when countries misrepresent the amount of gold they’ve produced. China is a prime example. 

In 2007, China overtook South Africa to become the world’s largest gold producer, MoneyWeek reports. Today, China accounts for around 15% of total annual global gold production.

China does not sell any gold abroad. “MoneyWeek” reports it is difficult to quantify how much private accumulation of gold there is in China. Without full transparency, the real amount of gold in the world will always be an estimate.

Why the Amount of Gold in the World May Start Decreasing

The amount of gold in the world may decrease despite gold’s undestroyable nature. The World Gold Council reports some innovative uses for gold, which means gold is not always recyclable but is consumed in small amounts.

  • Medicine: Medical practices, including Rapid Diagnostic Tests and gold-based drugs, are used to treat illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Environment: Gold is used in environmental applications like solar cells, fuel cell catalysts, and breaking down groundwater contamination.
  • Engineering and aerospace: Engineering and aerospace industries use gold, including gold coatings on the hexagonal mirrors on telescopes and coatings for engineers in terrestrial settings.
  • Nanotechnologies: Gold is used to make plastic electronics and touch-sensitive screens.

Straterra, an organization dedicated to the New Zealand minerals sector, points out other unique uses for gold:

  • Cancer treatment
  • Life-support and medical diagnosis devices
  • Orthodontic appliances, fillings, crowns, and bridges
  • Electronics and gadgets including laptops, mobile phones, and desktop computers
  • Specialty glass for climate-controlled complexes

When gold is used for applications like these, it may be discarded in landfills, ingested, or implanted, and is much harder to recover.

How Much Gold Has Been Mined?

According to the World Gold Council, approximately 190,040 tonnes of gold have been mined throughout history. The World Gold Council reports around two-thirds of this amount has been mined since 1950. 

Advancements in technology in the past century and methodology have led to the exponential increase of gold production.

How Much Gold Is Left to Be Mined?

Goldman Sachs European metals and mining analyst Eugene King estimates there are only 20 years of known mineable reserves of gold, MSN reports. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there are 57,000 metric tons of current underground reserves.

There are some sources for gold that may hold bright potential, granted the technology to extract gold from them can be created.

One source is oceans. According to the National Ocean Service, there is about one gram of gold for every 100 million metric tons of ocean water in the north Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. “Forbes” reports that’s about 20 million tons of gold, worth around $771 trillion.

Another potential source for gold is space. Gold is believed to have originated due to collisions between neutron stars. Recent years have brought about discussions of a solar system mining gold rush, the “Guardian” reports, where startup space miners make plans to mine planets, moons and other heavenly bodies for gold.

How Much Gold Does the U.S. Have?

According to MarketWatch, the United States has a gold reserve worth $373 billion. In June 2019, the U.S. Government Gold Reserve released a report stating it has:

  • $10.9 billion worth of gold bullion
  • $120.6 million worth of gold coins, blanks, miscellaneous

Altogether, the total for the U.S. Government Gold Reserve is more than $11 billion.

Which Country Has the Most Gold?

The United States leads the world’s country with the most gold. MarketWatch reports Germany comes in second, with the country’s reserve of gold equaling 3,369 tonnes, worth more than $154 billion.

As of August 2019, the World Gold Council reports the top 10 countries with the largest gold reserves are as follows:

  1. United States ($373.4 billion)
  2. Germany ($154.7 billion)
  3. Italy ($112.6 billion)
  4. France ($111.8 billion)
  5. Russia ($99.6 billion)
  6. China  ($86.6 billion)
  7. Switzerland  ($47.7 billion)
  8. Japan ($35.1 billion)
  9. India ($28 billion)
  10. Netherlands ($28 billion)

In recent years, buying trends point to Russia and China becoming the world’s top buyers of gold.

Get Gold Now When the Time is Right

At the rate that gold is being mined, the global stock of gold is decreasing. As the amount of gold above-ground being increasingly consumed, now is a better time than ever to invest in gold. As gold becomes more scarce, gold prices are certain to increase in the near future. You may be able to invest in gold now at a lower price than you will if you wait.To learn more about investing in gold for the security of your financial future, visit RME Gold. Our experts will walk you through everything you need to know about gold investments.