The Grasberg mine , located in Indonesia , had the honor of occupying the first position among world mines in 2018. Its production last year rose to 83.9 tons of metal.
At an enormous distance are the others. The second-highest producing mine last year was the Olimpiada mine in Russia, with 41.1 tons .
The third mine in terms of production was the main exploitation in the state of Nevada ( USA ): the Cortez mine , which produced 39.3 tons.
In fourth place was the Pueblo Viejo mine , located in the Dominican Republic , with a total of 30.1 tons .
The fifth place was occupied by the Kibali gold mine , in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with 25.1 tons .
One of the main factors that decide whether a gold deposit is going to be exploited or whether it is going to remain in the form of reserves underground, waiting for better times, is the economic cost of extraction. As is logical, the greater the depth, the greater the cost. And if the mine is in an isolated place, far from transport infrastructure, it will also be difficult for it to be profitable to extract the gold.
For this reason, mining companies handle a magnitude called “all-inclusive costs” (AISC) , which includes all costs related to gold production, from extraction to mineral treatment and transportation.
According to UK precious metals consultancy Metals Focus , the average AISC cost of mining gold in 2018 was $909 an ounce, up 3% from the previous year.
The cheapest region to extract gold in 2018 was the Commonwealth of Independent States (which includes Russia and most of the former Soviet republics), with an average of $747 per ounce .
By contrast, the most expensive region to mine for gold last year was Europe, at $1,011 an ounce .
The annual demand figure for gold is very similar to the production figure, which means that practically all of the metal that makes up the annual supply is consumed in one way or another.
According to Metals Focus data for 2018 , gold demand was 4,364 tons . Most of it, some 2,280 tons , went to the jewelry sector , which uses gold as a raw material to manufacture its pieces.
The second sector that consumes the most gold is investment , that is, the sale of bars and coins, which took just over 1,000 tons last year. The rest is distributed between the official sector (gold reserves of the central banks), with more than 650 tons and the increasingly important industrial demand ( 335 Tm ).
China and India are the two world giants when it comes to gold consumption. Its importance in the gold industry is such that small changes in demand by both countries influence the formation of the price of the metal.
China is the world’s largest consumer of gold, as well as the largest producer, with an annual demand of between 900 and 1,000 tons , mostly for the jewelry industry and, increasingly, for investment. The country has the advantage of having a significant national production (more than 400 tons per year), which it absorbs almost entirely.
The world’s second largest consumer is India , with a figure ranging between 750 and 850 tons . The situation, in his case, is much more complicated: gold is very important to Indian citizens, both in ceremonial terms and in terms of savings and investment.
However, the country barely has its own production, so practically all the gold it consumes has to be imported, with the harmful effect that this has on the trade balance.
In fact, the Indian government has spent years trying to mobilize the gold that the citizens and temples of the country house, to reduce the bill for imported metal.