How much gold has been found in the world?

About 244,000 metric tons of gold has been discovered to date (187,000 metric tons historically produced plus current underground reserves of 57,000 metric tons). Most of that gold has come from just three countries: China, Australia, and South Africa. The United States ranked fourth in gold production in 2016.

All of the gold discovered thus far would fit in a cube that is 28 meters wide on every side.

Most of the gold that is fabricated today goes into the manufacture of jewelry, but gold is also an essential industrial metal that performs critical functions in computers, communications equipment, spacecraft, jet aircraft engines, and a host of other products.

Learn more at the USGS commodity website for gold.

 

 

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What is white gold?

White gold was originally developed to imitate platinum (a naturally white metal). White gold is usually an alloy containing about 75% gold and about 25% nickel and zinc. If stamped 18 karat, it would be 75% pure gold.

Where can I find information about mineral commodities?

For statistical information about mineral commodities, visit the USGS Commodity Statistics and Information website. For locations outside the United States, the USGS International Minerals Statistics and Information website is the best starting point.

What is the meaning of the karat mark on gold jewelry?

The fineness of jewelry gold is stated as the number of parts in twenty-four that are gold. Thus, 24 karat gold is pure gold; 12 K would be an alloy that is half gold and half copper or other metals.

What is "Fool's Gold?"

Fool's Gold can be one of three minerals. The most common mineral mistaken for gold is pyrite. Chalcopyrite may also appear gold-like, and weathered mica can mimic gold as well. Compared to actual gold, these minerals will flake, powder or crumble when poked with a metal point, whereas gold will gouge or indent like soft lead. In addition, actual...

How much silver has been found in the world?

Of the 1,740,000 metric tons of silver discovered to date, 55% is found in just four countries on earth. All the silver discovered thus far would fit in a cube 55 meters on a side. Learn more at the USGS commodity website for silver .

What is sterling silver?

Sterling silver is the standard of quality for articles containing 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper (and/or other alloys).

How much copper has been found in the world?

To date, roughly 700 million metric tons of copper have been produced around the world. This would fit into a cube measuring about 430 meters on a side. Identified deposits contain an estimated 2.1 billion metric tons of additional copper, which brings the total amount of discovered copper to 2.8 billion metric tons. This would fit into a cube...

How large is a lifetime supply of minerals for the average person?

At today's level of consumption, the average newborn infant will need a lifetime supply of 800 pounds of lead, 750 pounds of zinc, 1,500 pounds of copper, 3,593 pounds of aluminum, 32,700 pounds of iron, 26,550 pounds of clays, 28,213 pounds of salt, and 1,238,101 pounds of stone, sand, gravel, and cement.

How many pounds of minerals are required by the average person in a year?

To maintain our standard of living, each person in the United States requires over 38,449 pounds of minerals each year: 9,426 pounds of stone 6,768 pounds of sand and gravel 655 pounds of cement 142 pounds of clays 338 pounds of salt 244 pounds of iron ore 195 pounds of phosphate rock 34 pounds of soda ash 28 pounds of aluminum 13 pounds of copper...

How do we extract minerals?

The primary methods used to extract minerals from the ground are: Underground mining Surface (open pit) mining Placer mining The location and shape of the deposit, strength of the rock, ore grade, mining costs, and current market price of the commodity are some of the determining factors for selecting which mining method to use. Higher-grade...
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Date published: May 22, 2018

Digital Gold Rush Depends on Traditional Gold

In 1849, the discovery of gold in California sparked one of the most famous gold rushes in history. Thousands trekked across mountainous terrain to seek the precious metal, with entire industries springing up around the rush. In fact, the desire to understand our mineral resource wealth that led to the creation of the U.S. Geological Survey was in part fueled by gold rushes like this one.

Date published: April 25, 2017

EarthWord–Placer

Whether you pan for gold or rare earths, you’ll get a lot of sand...and this EarthWord!

Date published: April 1, 2017

The Golden Rule on April Fools

Think you know which mineral Fool’s Gold is? You might be fooled...

Date published: May 6, 2016

EarthWord - Mother Lode

Happy Mother's Day from EarthWords!

Date published: February 15, 2016

EarthWord – Ore

The naturally occurring material from which a mineral or minerals of economic value can be extracted. Usually minerals, especially metals, are mined first in ore form, then refined later.

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mineral fact sheets
March 1, 2019

Mineral Commodity Fact Sheets

A sample of fact sheets on selected important commodities that are published by the Mineral Resources Program.

October 26, 2017

2017 Oct. Public Lecture — Global Trends in Mineral Commodity Supplies

  • The U.S. is increasingly reliant on supply of mineral raw materials from other countries.
  • Advanced technologies are increasingly making use of nearly the entire periodic table of the elements.
  • Dynamic studies of critical and strategic mineral supply and demand can identify emerging potential supply risks.
  • The USGS - National Minerals
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Close up of Conglomerate (Gold Ore)
March 23, 2017

Conglomerate (Gold Ore)

Rock: Conglomerate (Gold Ore) Contains sediments of Precambrian age; contains about 8 grams of gold per ton of rock.
Mineral Origin: Witwatersrand formation, South Africa. The gold in the Witwatersrand Basin area was deposited in Archean river deltas having been washed down from surrounding gold-rich greenstone belts to the north and

...
January 27, 2017

NMIC - 2017 Mineral Commodity Summaries Release

The National Minerals Information Center, the primary agency for collecting and analyzing nonfuel minerals information, releases the 2017 Mineral Commodity Summaries, a collection of reports on over 85 commodities essential to the U.S. economy and national security.

Image shows a sample of gold against a black background
December 31, 2016

Native Gold

A sample of native gold. Gold has been treasured since ancient times for its beauty and permanence.   Most of the gold that is fabricated today goes into the manufacture of jewelry, but it also performs critical functions in computers, communications equipment, spacecraft, jet aircraft engines, and a host of other products. Read more about gold

...
Image shows gold-bearing veins of quartz
May 6, 2016

Gold Veins

Gold-bearing quartz veins from the Blue Ribbon Mine, Alaska. Credit: AlaskaMining at English Wikipedia, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44555449

February 25, 2016

The Gold Rush and the 1906 Earthquake

The Gold Rush and the 1906 Earthquake: How they combined to create the breakthrough discovery of modern seismic science

  • Accidents of Gold Rush merchant marine navigation transformed a seismic disaster into a seminal discovery and led to San Francisco's extreme liquefaction vulnerability today.
  • Just about everything that we love about the Bay area is
...
March 26, 2015

PubTalk 3/2015 — The Environmental Legacy of California's Gold Rush

by Andrea Foster, USGS Research Geologist & Christopher Kim, Associate Professor, Chapman University

  • Why are arsenic and mercury associated with California's gold mines?
  • What types of arsenic and mercury contamination can be directly related to historic mining?
  • How are geochemists studying the distribution and
...
USGS
September 4, 2008

Why Do Minerals Matter?

You might be surprised where minerals pop up; they're just about everywhere. We sit down with Kathleen Johnson, USGS Mineral Resources Program Coordinator, as she walks us through just how valuable minerals are to our lives.

Image shows black pans with gold grains
November 30, 2000

Gold Pans and Placer Gold

Gold Pans and Placer Gold - image by Max Flanery, California Geological Survey.

Image: Hydraulic Gold Mining

Hydraulic Gold Mining

Hydraulic gold mining near Nevada City, Calif.