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How Rare is Gold?

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From the Archives : Originally published May 21st, 2006
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( 6 votes, 3.5/5 ) , 4 commentaries
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Category : Gold University

The best estimates available suggest that the total volume of gold mined over history is approximately 155,500 tonnes, of which around 64% has been mined since 1950. More than 90% of the world's gold has been produced since 1848.

The dominant producing country for much of the 20th century was South Africa, which in the early 1970s was producing 1,000 tonnes per annum, or over 70% of the world total at that time. In 2005, South Africa mined only 296 tonnes, still enough to be the world leader. Second place Australia produced 263 tonnes followed closely by the U.S. at 262 tonnes.

The density of gold is 19.3 tonnes per cubic meter. The 155,500 tonnes of gold mined over the history of mankind would be 8057 cubic metres.

The dimensions of such a cube would be only 20 metres a side.

The world gold production is approximately 2500 tonnes per year. To this cube we would be adding approximately 10.7 cm per side.

Considering that the standard tennis court is just over 23 meters (78') long this clearly illustrates just how rare gold is.

Mike Hewitt



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Mike Hewitt is the editor of, a website pertaining to commentary on the instability of the global fiat monetary system and investment strategies on mining companies.
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Australia got the Silver Medal for second place in production stakes in 2005.
But we have the Gold Medal for 8 of the 10 biggest nuggets ever found.

As for rarity you could say that everything is relative.
For instance...i have never seen a piece of Palladium or a barrel of Oil.

Gold is everywhere so I reckon it is abundant.
20.7 x 20.7 x 20.7 meters
20.7 meters = 2070cm + 10.7cm = 2087cm per side dimension.
There are 3 sides to a cube. So 20.87 x 20.87 x 20.87 meters.

More interesting is this is roughly equal to every passenger on starship earth having half an ounce.
If you have more, someone else has less.
Not that it matters squat, but your usually flawless math is a bit off. The cube was 20 cubic meters to begin with. As 7 years have passed since the article was first published, if we assume that gold production has remained relatively consistent over this period and we remember that the layer added for each of those seven years will be a tiny bit thinner than the previous one, then we will arrive at your figure of 20.7. As only 7 years have passed, there is no need to add another 10.7 cms. to the cube and of course, 2070 cms. plus 10.7 cms. equals 2080.7 cms. Additionally, a cube has 6 sides, not 3.

That being said, let me take this opportunity to say that of all those who post here, i find your comments to be a notch above the rest.
are you sure about that 10.7cm.... 4.2" cube ?????
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Australia got the Silver Medal for second place in production stakes in 2005. But we have the Gold Medal for 8 of the 10 biggest nuggets ever found. As for rarity you could say that everything is relative. For instance...i have never seen a piece of Pal  Read more
S W. - 5/16/2013 at 7:55 AM GMT
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