Mine Production

Gold mining is a global business with operations on every continent, except Antarctica, and gold is extracted from mines of widely varying types and scale.

Mines and gold mining operations have become increasingly geographically diverse, far removed from the concentrated supply of four decades or so ago when the vast majority of the world’s gold came from South Africa.

China was the largest gold producer in the world in 2016, accounting for around 14% of total annual production. But no one region dominates. Asia as a whole produces 23% of all newly-mined gold. Central and South America produce around 17% of the total, with North America supplying around 16%. Around 19% of production comes from Africa and 14% from the CIS region. See our interactive gold mining map for gold production per country in 2016.

Overall levels of mine production have grown significantly over the last decade, although substantial new discoveries are increasingly rare and production levels are increasingly constrained.

Gold mining and mine production does not respond quickly to prices. The project development timeline and mine lifecycle is a very long one – it often takes decades to move from discovery to production.

 

Producer hedging

The volume of gold that is supplied to the market each year can also be marginally affected by forward selling of future production – known as producer hedging.

There are times when miners will want to lock in a specific price for their future gold production – for example, to manage project costs or debt servicing. These commitments will affect the amount of gold that enters the market. In previous decades, these hedging agreements had a substantial impact on supply levels but in recent years they have been relatively small and shorter term in nature.