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Embed this infographic on your site! Below are a series of questions that we began with and the answers we discovered in our research. That’s about 181,881 ordinary tons or 363,762,732 pounds, or 5,820,203,717 ordinary ounces. More than half of all humanity’s gold has been extracted in the past 50 years. Now the world’s richest deposits are fast being depleted, and new discoveries are rare. Gone are the hundred-mile-long gold reefs in South Africa or cherry-size nuggets in California.
Most of the gold left to mine exists as traces buried in remote and fragile corners of the globe. But there is no shortage of miners, big and small, who are willing to accept. How much gold gets mined per year worldwide? The table below shows world gold production from 1900 thru 2011. Production in 1900 was around 400 metric tons per year and has consistently moved up over the years. It is currently around 2,500 metric tons per year.
The all time high was reached in 2001, with 2,600 metric tons of gold production worldwide. The total gold mined from 1900 to the present is just under 141,000 metric tons. But didn’t the Spanish get lots and lots of gold from the New World, especially from the Aztecs and Incas? In fact, the Spanish got much more silver than gold from the New World. In the 16th century, when production was in full swing, the Spanish only got 154 metric tons of gold, whereas they got 7440 metric tons of silver. Gold production in the new world for the entire the 16thcentury was thus less than half of what it was worldwide in 1900. An Olympic swimming pool is 50 by 25 by 2 meters.
It therefore contains 2,500 cubic meters of water. Each cubic meter of water is one metric ton. 3 times as dense as water. Therefore an Olympic swimming pool would contain 48,250 metric tons of gold. Given 165,000 metric tons as an upper bound on available gold, how much does that leave to each human on the planet?