China was the world’s top gold producer for the year 2010 when it has produced 345 tonnes of gold.
Today in China gold is considered to be an ornament, a sign of prosperity, a currency and it is also an important part of the Chinese culture and religion. The country’s gold consumption in 2010 was up 21% from the previous year - it reached 571.51 tonnes.
The country has 1,900 t of gold reserves and plans to increase it to 3,000 t over a 5 years period.
Production has usually been concentrated in the eastern provinces of Shandong, Henan, Fujian and Liaoning. Recently, western provinces such as Guizhou and Yunnan have seen a sharp increase in their gold output.
Important quantities of gold are obtained as by-products of copper mining.
Significant quantities of gold came from the Jinfeng (Carlin-type), Tanjianshan and White Mountain mines.
Advancements in metallogenic theory and exploration methods for Carlin-type (Nevada) gold deposits by American geologists have been successfully applied to China. Over 100 Carlin-type gold deposit occurrences have been identified in southwest and central China. Chinese Carlin-type deposits are present along the margin of the Precambrian Yangtz craton. Additional deposits lie in the West Qinling area in the Qinling fold belt where many intrusive rocks are present.
In 1988, China declared gold to be a protected commodity for exploitation. In November 2009, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) announced that the 17% value-added tax on gold, which was contained in imported crude copper, was eliminated.
In 2010 Australia produced 255 t of gold and ranked as the world’s second largest gold producer.
Western Australia is the country’s leading gold producer state followed by New South Wales, Queensland, Northern Territory, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria. Most of the gold production came from open pit mining.
Leading producers of gold include Western Australia’s Super Pit at Kalgoorlie, Telfer in the Pilbara region, the St Ives, Agnew, Boddington and Sunrise Dam operations in Yilgarn Craton as well as the Cadia-Ridgeway operation in New South Wales and the Tanami operations in the Northern Territory.
Other important Australian gold mines include Olympic Dam, Higginsville, Frog’s Leg, Paddington, Coolgardie, Wattle Dam, Prominent Hill, Stawell and Fosterville.
India was the country’s top gold destination followed by the United Kingdom as London is an important gold market centre.
Australia has more gold reserves than any other country and at current production rates they would last another three decades.
In terms of exploration, new gold mineralization was found across Australia and at depths below known deposits in a variety of mineralization styles. The Archaean greenstones of Western Australia's Yilgarn Craton remain a very favorable target but substantial opportunities exist in other provinces too.
Australian Gold Resources Map (PDF) »
In 2010, the US produced 230 t of gold which made it the world’s third largest gold producer. Mine production was valued at $8.9 billion. Commercial-grade refined gold came from about 2 dozen producers.
Gold production in the United States is mainly concentrated in the states of Nevada, Alaska, Utah, and Colorado. There are also gold operations and exploration projects in Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah, and Washington.
Gold was produced at about 50 lode mines, a few large placer mines (all in Alaska), and numerous smaller placer mines (mostly in Alaska and in the Western States). In addition, a small amount of domestic gold was recovered as a byproduct of processing base metals, chiefly copper. Thirty operations yielded more than 99% of the gold produced in the United States.
Nevada is the leading gold-producing state. Almost all the gold in Nevada comes from open pit mining and is recovered by means of cyanide heap leaching. One of the largest gold operations in the U.S. is the Carlin mine in northeast Nevada, which is producing gold from a large low-grade deposit.
Much of the gold produced in Alaska was mined from placer deposits occurring along many of the major rivers and tributaries. The principal placer-mining region has been the Yukon River basin which crosses central Alaska. Beach deposits of the Nome district rank second among productive placer deposits of Alaska.
In 2010, South Africa was the world’s fourth largest gold producer. The country is home to some of the world’s most important gold mining companies like AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields and Harmony Gold Mining.
About 95% of South Africa's gold mines are underground operations, reaching depths of over 3.8 km. Due to declining ore grades, increased depth of mining, personnel problems, power interruptions and rising production costs the output has been steadily falling.
South Africa has vast gold ore reserves, estimated at 6,000 t. Its main gold producing mines are located on the Archaean Witwatersrand Basin. This basin has been mined for more than 100 years and has produced more than 41,000 t of gold. Currently, seven gold fields are being exploited within the Witwatersrand Basin.
Unlike most of the world’s major gold deposits, the Witwatersrand is an ancient placer deposit, with gold being hosted by conglomerates and grits. The Wits sedimentary basin stretches through an arc of approximately 400 km across the Free State, North West and Gauteng Provinces.
In 2010, Russia was the world’s fifth largest gold producer. During the year the Russian Central Bank acquired 135.3 tonnes of gold mostly on the domestic market.
First state organized geological expeditions were launched by Tsar Ivan III Vasilievich in 1491 and 1492.
Russian gold deposits are mostly located in Siberia and Far East. Leading gold production regions are Krasnoyarsk Kray, Sakha Republic, Irkutsk Oblast, Magadan Oblast, Khabarobsk Kray, Amur Oblast and Kamchatka.
Important Russian gold mines are Kupol, owned by Kinross Gold, located in Chukotka; the Olympiada mine (Polyus Gold) located in Krasnoyarsk; the Voro mine (Polymetal) located in Sverdlovsk; and, Khakanja mine (Polymetal) located in Khabarovsk region.
Historically, Russia had the world’s largest placer gold output but its placer deposits have been significantly depleted and the country scrambles to open more hard rock mines as to make for the lost production.
More than one-half of Russia’s hard rock gold resources occur in the Maiskoye, Natalkinskoe, Nezhdaninskoe, Olimpiada, and the Sukhoi Log deposits.
In 2010, Peru was the world’s sixth largest gold producer with 170 tonnes gold produced from hard rock and placer mining.
Illegal mining accounts for nearly a quarter of gold production in Peru.
From the total gold output in 2009 placers accounted for more than 14% of the gold produced in the country. The southeastern Andes have well-known gold placers on the Inambari River and its tributaries. Placer gold was produced mostly in the Inca and the Mariategui Regions and from rivers and streams throughout the jungle.
The Yanacocha mine (ranked as the top Peruvian gold producing mine) in the Andes in northern Peru is considered one of the biggest and most profitable in the world – it has produced over US$7 billion worth of gold to date (2008). The Yanacocha gold deposits are high sulfidation epithermal gold deposits, with varying amounts of silver. The Yanacocha gold district is a 10 km x 4 km zone of altered rocks within a belt of Tertiary volcanics that extends the whole length of Peru.
This volcanic arc also hosts the Pierina and Lagunas Norte (2nd Peruvian gold producer) epithermal gold deposits.
The majority of the country’s gold is mined as by-product of copper mining at Grasberg and Batu Hijau. The Grasberg minerals district contains the largest single gold reserve and the second-largest copper reserve of any mine in the world.
Although the country has the same gold reserves as the US in 2010 it produced only half the total of gold produced by the United States.
The Grasberg Mine is a copper-gold porphyry & skarn deposits that produced 1,222 Mlbs copper and 55.6 tonnes gold in 2010. The mine is located in Irian Java and is owned by Freeport McMoran and Rio Tinto. Open pit mining operations are to be completed in 2015, at which time underground mining operations would begin in earnest.
Another important mining operation is the Batu Hijau porphyry copper-gold mine located on the island of Sumbawa which produced 11.32 t gold in 2010. The open pit mine is owned by Newmont Mining Corporation and has reserves for another 20 years of mining.
Other Indonesian gold mines are the North Lanut mine which produced 1.5 tonnes gold in 2010; and, the Mt. Muro mine with 1.41 tonnes gold in 2010.
Another important mine is the Pongkor (PT Aneka Tambang) underground gold mine located 100 km southwest of Jakarta.