Gold is well-known mineral that touches all of our lives, but most of us at some point wonder where gold is found. After all, it doesn’t just appear in ring form wrapped around your finger or in bullion form locked in a vault somewhere. Gold has to be located and mined before it can be processed and turned into such prized possessions.
The top source of gold in the world over the last 120 years has been The Witwatersrand basin in South Africa. Also known as “The Rand”, it has been the source of 40% of the gold found during this time period. A large portion of the world’s unmined gold is thought to remain there, with some scientists suggesting the portion is up to one third.
After South Africa, the second biggest gold producing country is the United States. In particular Nevada, but also other states like Alaska, California, and Colorado have a gold mining output.
After the United States, the third biggest gold producing country is Australia. Gold was first discovered there near Ophir, New South Wales, and today is primarily mined in the Goldfields-Esperance and Pilbara regions of Western Australia, and at Bendigo, Victoria. The largest open-air mine in Australia is the Super-Pit gold mine in Kalgoorie, a town in the Goldfields-Esperance region, and extends 8 square kilometers. It is an overwhelming sight to behold.
The above three countries have been the biggest gold producing nations over the last century. But if we measure only the current year’s production, China has become the world’s largest producer of gold, overtaking South Africa’s top position in 2007. Other countries such as the United States, Canada, and Australia actually have more extensive gold reserves than China. However, the low cost of labor and production in China, as well as recent capital expansion and increase in foreign investment, have propelled China’s production rate ahead of the other more naturally abundant countries.