In its natural form, gold is found abundantly as a solid in siliceous rocks, and in the form of granules, nuggets, or even powder in riverbeds. Although many believe gold also exists in vast quantities at the bottom of the world’s oceans, no one has been able to mine this purported gold to date.
Gold producing regions
The yellow metal is one of the rarest elements in the Earth’s crust, and one-fourth of it is found in South Africa. Australia, Russia, Canada, Russia, and the United States are the other leading producers of gold. Nevada, South Dakota, Alaska, Montana, and California are notable gold-producing states in the USA.
Grasberg Gold Mine in Papua, Indonesia, is believed to be the world’s largest gold mine. Although gold output fluctuates on an annual basis, Grasberg has held onto its prime position for several years. It is also the world’s third largest producer of copper, and is owned by Phoenix, Arizona-based Freeport-McMoRan through a subsidiary. Its output in 2011 amounted to 1,444,000 ounces.
The other large gold mines, in no particular order, are:
- Cortez, owned by Barrick Gold and located in Elko, Nevada. Its output in 2011 is believed to have been 1,421,000 ounces.
- Yanacocha, owned jointly by Newmont Mining and Buenaventurda and located in Peru’s Cajamarca Province. Its 2011 output was 1,293,000 ounces.
- Goldstrike/Betze Post, situated northwest of Elko, Nevada and also owned by Barrick Gold. Its 2011 output was 1,088,000 ounces.
- Argentina’s Veladero, also owned by Barrick Gold, is located in San Juan district. This gold mine had reserves of 10.6 million ounces in 2011.
- Australia’s Super Pit/Kalgoorlie is an open cut mine owned jointly by Newmont Mining and Barrick Gold. Its output in 2011 was 794,000 ounces.
- South Africa’s Vaal River mine is run by Anglogold Ashanti and produced 831,000 ounces of gold in 2011.
- West Wits/Western Deep Levels in South Africa is also owned by Anglogold Ashanti and is the deepest mining operation in the world at present. Its 2011 output was 792,000 ounces.
- Lagunas Norte in Peru is owned by Barrick Gold and produced 763,000 ounces of the precious metal in 2011.
- The other two gold mines that round off this list are Lihir Gold Mine in Papua New Guineau, owned by Newcrest Mining Ltd., and Australia’s Boddington Gold Mine, owned by Newmont Mining.