Gold harder to find – industry body

Many prospective areas have already been explored, according to the World Council

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The gold mining industry is struggling to maintain production growth as finding deposits of the yellow metal has become more difficult, according to the World Gold Council (WGC), cited by CNBC on Sunday.

Data from the trade association reportedly shows that mine production rose merely 0.5% in 2023 compared to a year ago.

In 2022, the growth was 1.35% in annual terms, whereas the year before it had risen 2.7%.

“We’ve seen record first quarter mine production in 2024, up 4% year-on-year,” WGC Chief Market Strategist John Reade told CNBC, adding: “But the bigger picture, I think about mine production is that, effectively, it plateaued around 2016, 2018 and we’ve seen no growth since then.”

According to Reade, it is becoming harder to find new gold deposits around the world since many prospective areas have already been explored.

He pointed out that large-scale gold mining is capital-intensive, and requires significant exploration and development. It takes an average of 10 to 20 years before a mine is ready for production, the market strategist said, adding that only about 10% of discoveries contain sufficient deposits to warrant mining.

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Moreover, it can take several years to secure government licenses and permits needed for mining companies to start operations.

Many mining projects in remote areas require building infrastructure such as roads, power, and water, Reade noted.

“It’s getting harder to find gold, permit it, finance it, and operate it,” he said.

Around 187,000 metric tons of gold has been mined throughout history, according to the report, with an additional 57,000 tons still unexcavated.

The price of gold hit record highs last month, rallying to nearly $2,450 per ounce in the wake of rising global geopolitical tensions.

On Monday, the precious metal was trading at $2,330 an ounce.


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