Gold mine output has flatlined over the last several years and that trend appears to be continuing in 2019. In fact, some analysts believe we may be at or near “peak gold.”
According to the World Gold Council’s Gold Demand Trends Q3 report, gold mine output fell slightly with total mine production coming in at 877.8 tons in Q3. On a year-to-date basis, mine production stands at 2,583 tons. That’s virtually identical to production levels at this point in 2018.
Australian mines are running out of gold, according to a report by S&P Global Market Intelligence.
Analysts say Australia sits poised above a “production cliff.” The country could slip from the world’s second-largest gold producer to fourth by 2024.
The Australian gold mining industry faces the same problem as South Africa’s – aging mines.
Gold output in South Africa fell for the 14th straight month in November. According to Bloomberg, it ranks as the longest streak of monthly declines since 2012.
Production fell 14% from a year earlier, Pretoria-based Statistics South Africa said in a statement on its website last week.
South Africa once led the world in gold production. The precipitous drop in the country’s mine output over the last few years is expected to continue and could foreshadow a long-term trend of falling gold production globally.
Global mine production fell slightly in 2017, the first drop in mine output since 2008. In fact, gold production has generally increased every year since the 1970s. The drop in 2008 was something of an anomaly, as it occurred at the onset of the 2008 financial crisis. The recent slowdown in mine production is more concerning. In fact, many people speculate we may be at or near “peak gold.”
South African gold output saw its biggest drop in over a year in May, falling 16.2% year-on-year. This is another sign that the one-time world leader in gold production could be running out of the yellow metal.
May’s decline came on the heels of a 5.8% drop in production in April. It was the eighth consecutive month of declining output for South African gold mines, according to Pretoria-based Statistics South Africa.
Last May, the head of the world’s largest mining company said we’ve found all of the gold. Goldcorp CEO Ian Telfer told the Financial Times, “we’re right at peak gold here.”
Peak gold is the point where the amount of gold mined out of the earth will begin to shrink every year, rather than increase, as it has done pretty consistently since the 1970s.
You could blow off Telfer’s comments off as hyperbole or the musings of a contrarian except that he’s not the only person in the gold mining industry worried about decreasing gold production. As a recent Business Insider article reported, many of the top people responsible for supplying the world’s gold say we’re running out of the yellow metal.
The head of one of the world’s largest gold mining companies says we’ve found all the gold.
Ian Telfer serves as the chairman of Goldcorp Inc., a worldwide gold mining company based in Canada. During an interview with the Financial Post, he said the world has reached “peak gold,” meaning as we move into the future, mine production will decline steadily.
If I could give one sentence about the gold mining business … it’s that in my life, gold produced from mines has gone up pretty steadily for 40 years. Well, either this year it starts to go down, or next year it starts to go down, or it’s already going down. We’re right at peak gold here.”