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What is gold?

Gold, chemical symbol Au (from the Latin aurum meaning "shining dawn") and atomic number 79, is a precious metal. In its purest form, it is a bright, slightly reddish yellow, dense, soft, and malleable metal, highly valued for its extreme ductility, strong resistance to corrosion, lustrous beauty. Gold often occurs in free elemental (native) form, as nuggets or grains, in rocks, in veins, and as dust in the beds of rivers. Gold has been used since antiquity in the production of jewellery, coinage, sculpture, vessels and as a decoration for buildings, monuments and statues. Some gold artefacts discovered by archaeologists in the Eastern Mediterranean and Balkan peninsula are dated to around the 4th millennium BC. Varna Necropolis also is known as Varna Cemetery is a burial site, widely regarded as the location of the oldest known gold object artefacts have been discovered, dating back to between 4600-4200 BCE. In more recent times, gold has been also used in engineering, electronics, medicine and other fields.
picture of gold

Key Phrases

  • Lode Deposits
  • In nature, gold in the most occasions occurs in its native state, as a metal. These deposits, for the most part, comprised of little grains or minuscule particles of metallic gold embedded in solid rock. The encompassing rocks are often quartz or sulfide minerals, for example, pyrite. The natural gold itself is generally a combination containing around 10% silver.
  • Placer Deposits
  • A placer is any deposit of sand, rock, or other characteristic material that has amassed in a streambed, on a shoreline, or in residual alluvial deposits. Due to its high density, gold tends to gather and concentrate in placer deposits.
    Learn about "Gold Mining Methods" HERE

    Interesting Facts

    – The use of gold as a payment instrument originated in ancient Greece. In fact, the oldest gold coins found so far circulated in Lydia in the 6th century BC.
    – The Roman Empire was responsible for the introduction of massive exploitation techniques in gold mining.
    Under Julius Caesar, gold became the centre of the Roman monetary system.
    – The Inca civilization found in Peru (South America) believed that gold was the sweat of Inti (the Sun God) and as a result of this belief gold is used for producing of all types of religious items like sun disks and masks. – Gold is used in dentistry because it is chemically inert, non-allergenic, and easy for the dentist to work. Gold is known to have been used in dentistry as early as 700 B.C.
    – During the 19th Century, gold rushes across various parts of the globe triggered mass miner migration, such as the famous California Gold Rush between 1848-1855.
    – The top five gold producers in the world, as of 2017, are China (426 tonnes), Australia (295.1 tonnes), Russia (270.7 tonnes), the United States (230 tonnes), and Canada (175.8 tonnes).
    – Canadian giant "Barrick Gold Corporation" is on of the top gold mining companies in the world, with an impressive range of global operations including Canada, Australia, Argentina, Zambia, The Dominican Republic and Saudi Arabia.

    Map of the World Gold

    "World Gold Map" - Overview of the world's gold deposits, based on the overall size of gold resources in different parts of the world.

    Gold in North America

    Gold have been mining in the

    United States

    since 1799, when it was discovered in North Carolina. California, Nevada and Alaska are famous for their gold discoveries, but many people don't realize that gold can be found in almost all 50 states.
    us gold deposits
    U.S. Gold Mining Locations. Photo credit: source:


    is the Number 1 gold producing state and at the same time the most mineral rich state in the U.S. The state accounts for 75% of total U.S. output, and it’s even estimated to be responsible for producing 3 percent of all gold ever mined in human history.
    Largest gold mines:
    The Cortez gold mine
    located 100km south-west of Elko (Lander County, Nevada) is currently the 9th largest gold mine in the world. The mine contains a gold reserve of nearly 15Moz (425 tonnes) including 2Moz of proven and 13Moz of probable gold reserves. Gold production from Cortez started in 1969. The mine employs both open-pit and underground mining methods. Cortez gold mine is owned and operated by Barrick Gold. As one of Barrick’s most promising ore bodies, the site is scheduled to receive $153 million from the company through 2020. This will help expand its underground mining capacity, allowing it to produce an additional 300,000 ounces per year.
    Carlin Trend gold mine
    (operated by Newmont) in Nevada is the 8th largest in terms of contained gold reserve.


    is most famous for its Yukon Territory and the part it played in the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896. Gold was first discovered in Canada in 1823 along the Riviere Chaudiere in eastern Quebec.
    Canadian gold deposits are located along the Canadian Shield, in British Columbia and Nunavut, and on the island of Newfoundland. The Canadian Shield covers half of the land area of the country. Most of Canada's gold mines are located on the Shield, especially in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.

    Canada - Gold Mining Areas

    gold mines canada
    Canada - Gold Mining Areas. Photo credit: - jpg source page:
    Gold is mined in nine Canadian provinces and territories. There are several mines in operation. They include Eskay Creek Mine and Myra Falls Operation in British Columbia; Garson Mine and Stobie Mine in Ontario; Brunswick Mining Division in New Brunswick; Thompson Mill and Rice Lake Gold Mine in Manitoba; Mouska Mine and Sleeping Giant in Quebec; Canadian Malartic (Agnico Eagle and Yamana Gold), Quebec; and Meadowbank Gold Mine and Meliadine Agnico Eagle Gold Mine in Nunavut.

    Placer gold deposits

    in Canada are usually extracted from streams, creeks and rivers in Canada by amateur prospectors by panning and sluicing. Metal detecting for gold nuggets isn’t as common in Canada as it is in Australia and the USA, although some gold hunters have had success with it. Like Alaska, many of the best places to find gold in Canada are deep in wilderness areas.
    Rated 2.63/5 (2564 Votes)

    Gold in Central and South America

    Gold has been mined all throughout whole region of

    South America

    , from small-scale miners up to large commercial mining companies. From northern Mexico all the way to the southern tip of Chile, this is truly one of the richest gold-bearing areas on Earth. Some of the largest gold mines are placed on the continent, and there is still potential for future discoveries. Undoubtedly, there are millions of ounces of gold still yet to be found here.
    Whenever someone thinks about gold mining in South America they usually start of by thinking about prospecting in Peru, Chile and Brazil. Looking deeper in the subject we start to see that there is a lot of gold in Ecuador and Columbia. However very few people tend to look beyond that group of countries and because of that narrower view, many people miss out on great prospecting opportunities that take place in some of the other smaller less known countries as Guyana.

    Guyana Shield Is Host to Multiple Gold Deposits

    gold deposits gyana
    Gyana - Exploration Map. Photo credit: - jpg source page:
    Guyana is a one of the smaller South American countries that borders between Venezuela to the west, Suriname to the east and Brazil to the south. Guyana is very often called the "Land of Eldorado" because of the vast amounts of quanties of bauxite, manganeese, diamonds and gold along with other precious stones that are buried within the ground of this country. With gold prices now hitting record highs, many people from its coastal towns are heading into the country's interior to seek their fortune, either using artisanal methods or, if they can afford it, bringing in heavy dredging equipment. While most gold mining operations in the country are smaller alluvial/placer mines, there are larger operations that are open pit and underground also.

    Aurora Gold Project

    (Guyana Goldfields Inc.) - The Aurora mine is one of the largest gold mines in Guyana and in the world. The mine is located in the north-west of the country in Mazaruni. Total recovered gold production over a 16 year mine life is estimated to be 3.8 Moz, averaging 270,000 ounces per year for the first five years (2018 – 2022). Of the total 3.8 Moz ounces recovered over the life of the mine, 1.7 Moz are sourced from the open pit operations and 2.1 Moz are sourced from the underground operations.

    Toroparu Gold Project

    (Sandspring Resources SSP) - The Toroparu Gold Deposit is situated in an under-explored portion of the highly prospective Upper Puruni River Region of western Guyana. A pre-feasibility study completed for the Toroparu Project outlined the design of an open-pit mine producing 228,000 ounces of gold per year The mine’s reserves is estimated between 5-10 Moz of gold.

    Marudi Gold

    (Guyana Goldstrike) - The complex is comprised of two areas, one being Mazoa Hill and the other Marudi North. A combined potential resource sits around 880,000 oz. gold.

    Largest south american gold mining complexes

    Pascua-Lama Chile (Barrick Gold)

    - Pascua-Lama gold mine is located in the Frontera district (Central Andes), in the southern reaches of Atacama Desert, straddling the border between Chile and Argentina at an altitude of over 4,500 metres. The project was temporarily suspended in April 2013 due to an objection from a Chilean court on environmental grounds. The estimated gold reserves at Pascua-Lama as of December 2017 stood at 14 Moz, including 1.8 Moz of proven and 12.2 Moz of probable gold reserves.

    Pueblo Viejo Dominican Republic (Barrick Gold)

    - Pueblo Viejo mine located around 100km(60ml) north-west of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic is one of the largest gold mine in the world.
    Read the full article
    Recently the level of gold exploration in

    Central America

    has increased because the region is not well explored and one might say it is under exploration. The region's small but diverse mining operations produced a variety of metals, industrial minerals, and mineral fuels including Gold. Gold mining activity is centered primarily in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama.
    Rated 2.68/5 (2442 Votes)

    Gold in Australia and Oceania


    is the second largest producer of gold in the world. The great majority of the gold that is produced in Australia comes from large commercial gold mining operations. Most of the commercial gold mines in Australia are open-pit mine type, but some mining is also done underground. Western Australia has the largest number of commercial gold operations, with the rest scattered around the Northern Territory and the other states in Australia.
    Plenty of gold is found in Australia every year by smaller, non-commercial gold operations, individual prospectors and amateur nugget hunters. Australia become a much sought-after destination for prospectors during the gold rush of the 1800’s. Since then, significant amounts of gold are discovered in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia.

    Biggest gold mines

    - The Newmont-operated Boddington gold mine located near Boddington, 75 miles southeast of Perth, Western Australia is the country’s largest gold mine. The mine contained a gold reserve of 11,6 Moz (328 tonnes) as of December 2017.
    The open-pit gold mine first commenced operations in 1987 by extracting the shallow oxide ores up to 70m deep below surface. It was brought under care and maintenance in 2001. Commercial production from the Boddington gold mine was restarted in 2009, with an expected mine life of up to 20 years. A project is being implemented to extend the mine life up to 2041 by exploiting additional gold resources identified in the low-grade hard rock ores below the previously mined pits.
    gold mines australia
    Australian Gold Deposits. Photo credit: - jpg source page:
    The Kalgoorlie mine
    (Newmont mining), commonly referred to as “the Super Pit,” has produced more than 50 million ounces of gold in 30 years. The mine’s total proven and probable reserves amount nearly 4,14 Moz (117 tonnes) of gold.
    Tanami golden mine
    - The complex is situated in the remote Tanami Desert in The Northern Territory of Australia. The mine and plant are located on Aboriginal freehold land that is owned by the Warlpiri people and managed on their behalf by the Central Desert Aboriginal Lands Trust. Tanami contains a gold reserve of nearly 4,48 Moz (127 tonnes).
    St Ives Gold Mine
    represents a solid base for Gold Fields growth in Australia and is an important contributor to the Gold Fields vision, To be the global leader in sustainable gold mining, with a target contribution from the Australasia Region of ~1 Moz per annum.
    Agnew Gold Mine
    - Agnew is located some 375 km north of Kalgoorlie, in the same geological region as the St Ives Gold Mine. Gold was first discovered in the region in 1895 and Agnew currently holds tenements covering an area of approximately 59,398 ha. The existing operations exploit shear hosted auriferous zones from underground at the Waroonga Complex.
    Lihir Gold Mine
    , Aniolam Island, Papua New Guinea is located 900km north-east of Port Moresby in the New Ireland Province of New Ireland Province of Papua New Guinea. It is owned and operated by Lihir Gold Limited (LGL), which was merged with Newcrest Mining in August 2010. Newcrest Mining currently owns and operates the Lihir gold mine. Since production commenced in 1997, the complex has produced more than 10 million ounces of gold. Lihir has estimated reserves of 31 million oz of gold.
    Rated 2.76/5 (2429 Votes)

    Gold in Europe

    Europe has many locations where gold can be found. This ranges all the way from the far west of the continent in Ireland, to the far east in Russia and most of the countries in between have gold in varying amounts.
    gold distribution europe
    Europe - Gold Distribution Map. Photo credit: - jpg source page:
  • Where is gold produced in Europe?
  • Principally in Scandinavia (Finland and Sweden), Balkans (Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania) and Spain. Finland and Sweden are the main producing countries, followed by Bulgaria and Spain. Turkey, which began to extract gold at the beginning of the 21st century, produces today more gold than all the countries of the EU put together. In many countries of the EU, such as the United Kingdom, Romania, Greece, Slovakia, and Portugal, some gold mining projects are at the licensing stage. Geological exploration for gold deposits is ongoing also in other countries, such as France, Italy, Slovakia and Austria.

    Gold in Russia

    Russian Federation is a mining giant, accounting for just under 15% of total global mineral production and placing within the top 10 world producers of mineral resources.

    Gold in Africa

    Gold in Southern Africa

    During the 1970s, South Africa was the world's most prolific exporter of gold.

    Over the years, industrial decline has seen widespread closures of the mines across the country. However, Johannesburg (Johannesburg's other name, "Egoli" means City of Gold) sits on the biggest gold basin ever discovered (Witwatersrand area) and in 2018, South Africa is still one of the world leaders in gold mining.
    South Deep gold mine
    (Mpumalanga region) located 45km south-west of Johannesburg in the Witwatersrand Basin is the second largest gold mine in the world. It is the also the seventh deepest mine in the world with a depth of 2,995m below surface. The South Deep deposit has approximately 39.1Moz of gold reserves.
    Witwatersrand Basin
    South Africa and the Witwatersrand Basin. Photo credit: - jpg source page: / creator:Bob Vidoni
    Mponeng gold mine
    near the town of Carletonville (Gauteng province) is currently the deepest mine in the world with a depth of more than 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) below the surface. The mine is one of the three Western Deep Levels mines of the West Wits gold field west of Johannesburg. Mponeng is the tenth largest gold mine, contains over 13Moz of gold reserves and is considered to be one of the most substantial gold mines in the industry.
    Western Deep No.1 and 2 mines

    The TauTona Mine or Western Deep No.3 Shaft

    - The mine exploited the gold contained reefs at a depth of more than 3.9km.
    TauTona was placed into orderly closure in 2017 due to severe production challenges and operational inefficiencies and low productivity, in addition to a nearly depleted ore reserve.
    Savuka gold mine
    , also located in the West Wits region and was the third deepest mine in the world. The mine exploited the gold contained reefs at a depth of more than 3.7km.
    The mine was placed into orderly closure in 2017
    The Kloof gold mine
    lies approximately 60km south west of Johannesburg and 20km from Carletonville, on the border of Gauteng and Northwest Provinces, South Africa. The mine operates at depths of 1,000m to 3,500m and employs 14,800 people. Since 1939, when the Venterspost mine came in stream, the Kloof complex has treated nearly 250Mt of ore at an average yield of 9g/t to produce over 71Moz of gold.
    The mine’s total proven and probable reserves amount nearly 10.5 Moz of gold.
    The Beatrix Gold Mine
    consists of four surface operating shafts that mine various gold bearing reefs from open ground and pillars at depths between 600 and 2,155 m below surface. Ore is processed at two metallurgical plants with mill throughput of approximately 3.0 Mtpa to produce approximately 391 koz of gold. The mine has a workforce of approximately 10,500 employees.
    The Driefontein mine
    is a large mine located in West Wits Line goldfield, about 60km south west of Johannesburg (Gauteng province).
    Gold mineralisation occurs at depths between 1,000m and 4,000m below surface. The mine’s total proven and probable reserves amount to 94.6Mt grading an average 7.4g/t, and containing 21.6Moz of gold.


    is known for its copper, but it is also a great gold producer with a number of active mines. It is a good country for anyone interested in mining in Africa, particularly because a lot of potential gold deposits are yet to be explored


    has good gold occurrences in the country which have led to the establishment of several large mines. Much of the mining in the country occurs near Francistown, the second largest city in Botswana.

    Gold in West Africa

    Gold is Ghana’s major mineral exports contributing about 35% of the country’s total exports.

    Ghana has become Africa’s second largest gold producer behind South Africa, which is exceptional considering the relative small size of the country. The country’s mining sector is centered around its gold production.
    Read the full version HERE

    Gold in East Africa


    has one of the largest unexplored gold resources in Africa.Currently the country is the 4th biggest gold producers in Africa. The country produces about 40 tons of gold annually. This is a huge fraction of the 2.8% that the mining sector contributes to the country’s GDP.
    Geita Gold Mine
    Golden Pride Gold Mine
    North Mara Gold Mine

    Gold in North Africa

    Algeria, Libya and Egypt are some of many gold-richest countries in Africa

    Sukari mine Egypt

    - Sukari tenement area is located in the south-easterly region of the Eastern Desert of Egypt, approximately 700km from Cairo and 25km from the Red Sea. The total measured and indicated resource, at 30 June 2015, is 13 Moz (million ounces)
    Rated 2.67/5 (2372 Votes)

    Gold in Asia

    As well as being the largest importer of gold in the world, and the world’s largest consumer of gold, the Chinese gold mining sector is the world’s largest national gold producer.


    annual gold mining output is far ahead of both Australia and Russia, the world’s second and third largest gold producers.
  • China has estimated reserves of 1840 tonnes of gold
  • Distribution of gold is not found evenly across the country of China. Most gold mines are located in Shandong Province, on midway between Beijing and Shanghai. Gold is mined and in provinces Fujian, Henan, Hebei, and Liaoning
  • Most large scale mining operations in China are mining gold ores from hard rock deposits
  • Roughly one fifth of chinese output is controlled by the China National Gold Group
  • grasberg mine indonesia


    is home to the world's biggest gold mine in terms of contained gold - Freeport Gold Mine (Grasberg gold and copper mining complex) in the Papua province. Roughly 18,000 people work at the Grasberg mine, for which a village, called Tembagapura, was constructed, containing roads, housing, schools, a hospital and an airport. Nearly a mile wide, the project consists of both an open pit and underground operation. The estimated gold reserves at Grasberg as of December 2016 stood at 25.8 million ounces (Moz).


    has the fourth largest known gold reserves and is the ninth largest gold-producing country. It should be noted that most of the information regarding gold production and reserves is classified as “gold mining along with uranium mining.” During the next decade, Uzbekistan intends to initiate mining operations at many new gold deposits with a record level of capital investment, according to the development programs of the country’s largest companies.

    Muruntau gold project

    - Muruntau is the world's largest open pit mine and producing more than twice as much as its nearest rival. Discovered in arid Kyzyl Kum Desert in 1958, the Muruntau gold deposit began operations in 1967. Today, at 1,900 feet deep, is the world’s fifth deepest. The project, which also contains huge deposits of turquoise and arsenic, sits atop what many geologists believe could be the world’s biggest gold reserve, with various estimates placing the amount at between 3 and 5,300 tonnes of gold (170 Moz).
    muruntau mine map
    Muruntau Gold Mine (Uzbekistan). Photo credit: - jpg source page: / original source: Mining Atlas

    The Oyu Tolgoi

    (Mongolia) mine is a combined open pit and underground mining project situated in the southern Gobi desert of Mongolia, approximately 550 kilometres south of the capital, Ulaanbaatar and 80 kilometres north of the Mongolia-China border, Oyu Tolgoi is jointly owned by the Government of Mongolia (34 per cent) and Turquoise Hill Resources (66 per cent, of which Rio Tinto owns 51 per cent). Since 2010, Rio Tinto has also been the manager of the Oyu Tolgoi project. In addition to its 46Moz+ of gold, it also contains over 2 milion tonnes of copper. It is really a copper mine masquerading as a gold mine.

    Boroo Gold

    (Mongolia) is a combined, gold and silver open-pit mine, located 110 kilometers west-northwest of Ulaanbaatar. The Ulaanbaatar - Irkutsk highway passes within three kilometers of the mine site. The complex is opened since 2004.

    Kumtor gold mine

    (Kyrgyzstan) Kumtor is located in the Kyrgyz Republic, about 350 kilometres southeast of the capital Bishkek and about 60 kilometres north of the border with the Peoples Republic of China. It is the largest gold mine operated in Central Asia by a Western-based company, having produced more than 10.4 million ounces of gold between 1997 and the end of 2015.

    The Hishikari Mine

    (Opened 1985) is situated in the northern part of Kagoshima Prefecture. Hishikari is the only gold mine in Japan in operation today. It has produced 236.2 tons (as of the end of March, 2018) of gold since production started. All of the gold produced from gold mines in Japan throughout history comes to around 1,300 tons.
    Rated 2.67/5 (2311 Votes)