Research & Blogs
The Top 5 Uses of Gold After it Has Been Mined
Gold is a historically sound investment, as it provides a hedge against inflation, and Gold mining is a complex and time-consuming process, but what happens once that gold is out of the ground? And if there is only a finite amount of gold in the world, how much of it is left? Keep reading to learn more about how gold is used once it is mined.
Gold Mining: A Brief History
Gold has been used for art, jewelry, cups, and more for centuries. Dating back to ancient civilizations in Egypt over 5,000 years ago1, gold was one of the first metals that were mined given its natural beauty and durability. When gold was discovered in California at Sutter’s Mill, 40,000 miners2 fled to the region in 1849 with the hope of finding gold. This period in America is referred to as the California Gold Rush. Even though these “49ers” were mostly unsuccessful at becoming rich from gold in California, gold continued to be viewed as a valuable precious metal. Increased mining and production since the mid-1850s have allowed gold to become a part of our everyday lives: gold is in our jewelry, our dental products, and even our phones!
Gold in the World Today
Since the beginning of civilization, about 187,200 tonnes3 of gold have been mined, and more than 90%4 of the world’s gold has been mined since the California Gold Rush. That is a lot of gold – but what do we do with it? Here are the top five uses5 for gold over the last ten years:
- Jewelry accounts for 51% of total gold demand, the highest percentage of any other sector. Jewelry has long remained the greatest use for gold.
- Bullion is the category used to describe gold coins and bars that can be used as currency and investments. It is the next highest sector by gold demand at about 26%.
- Central Banks have the next highest demand for gold at 12%. In Q3 of 2022, the countries with the highest gold reserves6 in their central bank holdings are the United States, Germany, and Italy.
- Industry use for gold is much broader than the first three sectors. This can include gold used for dental products, construction, and more, but the electronics sector is, by far, the greatest source of demand within the industry sector. While overall industry use accounts for 12% of total gold demand, within this sector, electronics drive about 80%7 of gold use. Gold is in virtually every modern electronic device8in small amounts, including cell phones, GPS systems, and calculators.
- ETFs and Similar Products hold the smallest demand for gold at around 3%. This is a much newer market compared to the long-standing use of jewelry and bullion, for example.
Even though most of the gold in the world has been mined, it is estimated that up to 15,000 tonnes of gold are held in the world’s oceans. It has been said that the gold that has already been mined in the world could fit all into a 21 meters-cubed crate! Even though that might seem small, gold has been mined for thousands of years and remains a highly valuable metal with a wide array of applications.
1 Geology.com, “Gold: A brief history of gold uses, prospecting, mining and production, https://geology.com/usgs/gold/“
2 World Gold Council, “Gold Facts, https://www.gold.org/about-gold/gold-facts“
3 World Gold Council, “Gold Facts, https://www.gold.org/about-gold/gold-facts“
4 World Gold Council, “Gold Facts, https://www.gold.org/about-gold/gold-facts“
5 World Gold Council, “Gold Market Structure and Flows, https://www.gold.org/about-gold/market-structure-and-flows“
6 World Gold Council, “Central bank holdings, https://www.gold.org/goldhub/data/gold-reserves-by-country“
7 World Gold Council, “Gold Demand Sectors, https://www.gold.org/about-gold/gold-demand/by-sector“
8 Geology.com, “The Many Uses of Gold, https://geology.com/minerals/gold/uses-of-gold.shtml#:~:text=Gold%20is%20used%20in%20connectors,almost%20every%20sophisticated%20electronic%20device.“