The Gold Rich Countries charts remained stable for several centuries. Back in the mid-1900s, four countries –South Africa, the United States, Canada and Australia, dominated gold production worldwide. South Africa was the world's largest gold producer of the group, which together accounted for more than half of the world’s gold output.
But in 2006, everything changed.
By then, these four major sources of gold saw their production numbers drop to roughly 36%. Large-scale gold production began expanding to other countries, reducing output in the leading group of four, creating new opportunities for gold equity investors, and providing openings for junior exploration companies to establish themselves as bona fide gold producers.
New Players Emerge in the Gold Industry
These changes in the market meant good news for many. In Latin America, for example, according to estimates by the U.S. Geological Survey, Peru now has gold reserves of approximately 2,800 metric tons –a dramatic increase from roughly 300 tons back in 2005. Other countries in the area have also emerged in the gold industry during recent years, among them Mexico, Argentina and Chile. Even with this significant increase in gold production, Latin America is still far behind from leading the industry. Last year Australia registered the largest gold reserves with 9,100 metric tons, followed by Russia with 8,000 tons. South-Africa was just behind with 6,000 tons (perhaps the most amazing thing about South Africa’s gold mining is that there is still more than 6,000 tons left to be uncovered!) and the United States is still in the top charts with 3,000 tons.
The Who's Who of Gold Production
In terms of production, according to Peru’s National Society for Mining, Oil and Energy (SNMPE) in 2015, China became the world's leading producer of gold with a production of 490 tons (most mines sit in Shandong Province, located midway between Beijing and Shanghai, and roughly one-fifth of output is controlled by the China National Gold Group), followed by Australia with 300 tons; Russia, 242 tons; United States, 200 tons; And Canada, 150 tons.
What it all Means for Investors
For individual stock investors and gold funds, this represents a chance to get in early on stocks that could rapidly increase in value, either due to takeovers by larger miners or by development of new mines, such as the Kilgore Project.
This article was written with information from the following sources: The Goldwatcher: Demystifying Gold Investing by John Katz and Frank Holmes SNMPE website