Commodities & Metals

World's 10 Top Producing Gold Mines

From a peak of more than $1,900 in mid-2011, gold prices dropped below $1,100 in 2015 before rising to around $1,400 last summer. On Friday, the February delivery price settled at $1,210.20, up about $100 since mid-December. The price of gold generally rises in periods of inflation and periods of economic uncertainty.

This is certainly one of the latter and may be the beginning of one of the former. The consumer price index topped 2% last week, and November’s election of Donald Trump as the 45th U.S. President has presented investors with plenty of uncertainty. A strong dollar also tends to weigh on the price of gold, and Trump has made clear his belief that the dollar is overvalued compared with the Chinese yuan. If the dollar sinks, interest in gold rises.

Where does the world’s gold supply come from? The country that produced the most gold in 2015 was China, but not a single one of the world’s top producing mines is located in China. Russia, the third-largest producing country, likewise has none of the top mines. Australia, the world’s second-largest producer of gold, has one mine among the world’s top 10, and the United States, ranked fourth, has three. Canada is the world’s fifth-largest gold producer.

In 2015 global gold production totaled 3,211 metric tons (tonnes) of the yellow metal, an all-time high. The top 10 mines produced just over 10% of the world’s total production in 2015. Here are the top 10 mines, along with their production and their country’s GDP based on 2015 purchasing power parity.

Muruntau

> Gold production (2015): 61.0 tonnes
> Country: Uzbekistan
> Country GDP (2015 estimate): $190.8 billion
> Owner: State-owned

Accurate figures are hard to come by for Muruntau, given the secretive nature of Uzbekistan’s leadership. The mine is believed to hold roughly 170 million ounces of reserves (about 4,800 tonnes), more than any other mine in the world.

Grasberg

> Gold production (2015): 42.3 tonnes
> Country: Indonesia
> Country GDP (2015 estimate): $2.89 trillion
> Owners: Freeport-McMoRan Inc. (NYSE: FCX) about 91%; Indonesian government about 9%

The Indonesian mine that is majority owned and operated by Freeport-McMoran consists of both open-pit and underground operations. The company has experienced difficult negotiations with the government and has not committed to further development of its underground operations unless the government renegotiates the contract ahead of the scheduled date of 2019.

Goldstrike

> Gold production (2015): 32.8 tonnes
> Country: United States
> Country GDP (2015 estimate): $18.27 trillion
> Owner: Barrick Gold Corp. (NYSE: ABX)

This central Nevada mine is located in the Carlin trend, the most prolific gold-producing region in the United States. The gold in the trend is nearly microscopic and was not economically viable until gold prices shot up in the 1970s. The Goldstrike mine’s proven and probable reserves totaled 8.5 million ounces at the end of 2015.

Cortez

> Gold production (2015): 31.1 tonnes
> Country: United States
> Country GDP (2015 estimate): $18.27 trillion
> Owner: Barrick

Another Carlin trend operation that produced nearly a million ounces in 2015. Proven and probable reserves totaled 11.1 million ounces at the end of 2015.