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How much gold is there in the world?


Everyone’s fancy is tickled by the question: how much gold is there in the world physically?There have been several attempts to estimate the amount of gold in the world, with results which vary significantly. Firstly, we can talk about the gold above the surface of the earth, that is, the stocks already extracted, but we can also look at the reserves which have not yet been extracted from the depths of the earth.

Some experts estimate the amount of gold already mined to be around 170 000 tonnes, while other estimates claim that this amount may be as high as 2.5 million tonnes. Humankind has mined gold for about 5 000 years and the first gold coins appeared in the court of King Croesus in approximately 550 BC. According to GMFS, a London-based consultancy specialising in the metal industry and mining technologies, humankind had extracted some 13 000 tonnes of gold before the discovery of America. 

They estimate the amount of gold reserves extracted worldwide to be about 155 000 tonnes. There is no credible evidence to support the claim that the figure is closer to 2.5 million tonnes. The claim is based on the fact that 1.5 tonnes of gold was used on the coffin of Pharaoh Tutankhamun, and the assumption, therefore, that in ancient times people, and in particular noblemen and leaders had already amassed substantial reserves. As a result, it is very difficult to obtain an accurate estimation.

Which leads to the question of how much is still hidden in the depths of the earth? This question has been answered by the US Geological Society, who say that there are still some 50 000 tonnes of gold hidden underground. Demand for the reserves is constantly rising, as modern industry consumes a significant part of the amount produced today. However, while, for example, gold mined in Roman times can be recycled and used in the manufacture of a gold watch, the amount of gold used in the making of a mobile phone is so minimal, that the costs of recycling would be unreasonably high. Approximately 12% of the gold used industrially use is lost and discarded this way each year. So, while demand for gold is steadily rising, the amount of gold that can be extracted is finite.