21 Jun

Eternal Treasure: Gold Extraction from Antiquity to Today

Eternal Treasure: Gold Extraction from Antiquity to Today

Where is all the gold

We can estimate that of all the gold extracted since Antiquity, the essential part is still present in the anthroposphere, that is to say all the objects created and used by man. Alone
a small part, difficult to assess but perhaps of the order of 5 to 10%, has “disappeared”, i.e.

  • is dissipated by wear and tear in the environment (a gold wedding ring worn for years ends up scratching a little, which means that a few gold atoms are torn off)
  • either dissipated by non-recycling or non-recovery in its electronic uses or industrial, or marginal losses in recycling processes
  • is dissipated due to the nature of its use (food gilding, uses organic for certain medical tests, etc.)
  • is lost (lost treasures, sunken galleons – even if from time to time part of this gold reappears (treasures exhumed, or brought up from underwater wrecks)
  • either left in the form of dental crowns in the mouths of buried deceased persons
  • be sent into interplanetary space (gold equips satellites, Mars probes, equipment abandoned on the Moon, etc.)

In 2018, it is estimated the gold stock above ground at around 190,400 tons, i.e. most of what has been historically extracted, distributed 47.4% in the form of jewelry, 16.8% in
form of reserves in central banks, 21.7% in the form of coins and ingots in private stocks, 12.2% in the form of objects or in various equipment, which would total 186,700 tons, the remainder (3,700 tons) being not inventoried .

The sources of information differ slightly (total extracted reported: 188,650 tons according to historical data and recent production, other estimates at 190,400 tons, to be increased by gold
lost. It is important to focus on orders of magnitude, not precise figures, which are impossible to verify.

At the end of June 2018, the official reserves of central banks were 33,763 tons of gold, or around 18% of the gold available above ground. The World Gold Council has official gold reserves by country. It will be noted that these reserves of 33,763 tons stored in bank vaults would cover 101 years of technical consumption of gold (industry, electronics, dentistry) at its 2017 level. This is a unique situation compared to all others metals used by man, for which stocks rarely exceed a few months of consumption. This is one of the reasons why gold is rarely considered as critical in recent metal criticality analyses.

Known gold land reserves and resources

The accumulation of identified and listed land reserves amounts to 51,000 tons of gold in 2017, the equivalent of 15 years of production at the rate of 2017, and the total resources (inferred + indicated + measured) at 169,000 tons of gold, the equivalent of 50 years of production at the rate of 2017. These identified land resources are also comparable, in order of magnitude, to all the gold already historically extracted.

Let us recall that, in the strict sense, reserves are the part of the resources whose economic exploitability has been demonstrated by a feasibility study. Let us also remember that these tonnages of resources and reserves are dynamic quantities which evolve, mining exploration continuing to discover and highlight new resources, and feasibility studies continuing to convert additional shares of reserve resources.

Gold investment options

Gold is currently in an uptrend bullish market. Investing in gold offers a variety of options, each with its own advantages.

Physical gold, such as coins, bars, and jewelry, is a tangible asset that can be stored and held. Gold ETFs (Exchange-Traded Funds) allow investors to buy shares representing gold without the need to store physical gold. You can invest in both physical gold and gold ETFs by placing part of your retirement funds in a gold IRA.

Gold mining stocks in particular provide an opportunity to invest in companies that produce gold, offering potential for high returns but also higher risk. Gold futures and options are more complex financial instruments for more experienced investors, allowing for speculation on gold price movements with the potential for high returns. Each of these options caters to different investment strategies, risk tolerance, and financial goals, making gold a versatile asset in any well-diversified portfolio.