Formal, large-scale gold mining is complex and geographically diverse. Our gold mine production primer explains the life-cycle of a gold mine and the ways in which responsible gold mining can have a significant positive economic impact. 

This primer gives an overview of the modern gold mining process. It highlights the scale and breadth of the industry, looks at the life-cycle of a mine, and explores the way in which gold miners can sell their gold production.



  • Large-scale gold mining is complex and extremely capital-intensive.
  • It is geographically diverse, occurring on all continents apart from Antarctica.
  • The life-cycle of a gold mine is long: it takes 10 to 20 years on average before a mine is ready to begin operating.
  • Mining companies have the option to sell gold which is still in the ground now at a specified future price – known as hedging.
  • Responsible gold mining can benefit the economy and population of the host country.