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Have you ever wondered how much it would cost to buy gold?

Have you ever wondered how much it would cost to buy gold? Or have you ever questioned which country is the wealthiest when it comes to commodities like gold and silver?

To date, around 244,000 metric tons of gold and 1.74 million metric tons of silver have been discovered. But what does this look like in visual terms? We’ve taken a deep dive into the commodity wealth of various countries around the world. This includes the amount of each metal they produce and have in reserves yet to be mined, as well as how many years are left until they experience a critical shortage.

Rick Kanda, Managing Director at The Gold Bullion Company, comments on the value of these commodities and the risk of critical shortages:

“Australia is the country producing the most metals overall, totalling almost 946.3 million tons. This is then followed by Brazil, which produces around 435.1 million tons of metals, and China, which produces approximately 278.1 million tons of metals.

Australia also has the highest amount of metals in reserves yet to be mined, equaling almost 58.2 billion tons. This is again then followed by Brazil, which has around 34 billion tons of metals yet to be mined, and Russia, which has approximately 29.1 billion tons of metals in unmined reserves.

Metals can be split into two categories: precious metals and industrial metals. Precious metals have a higher economic value than industrial metals as they are considered to be more rare.

Mexico produces the most precious metals, equaling around 6,319 tons. This includes approximately 124 metric tons of gold and 6,195 tons of silver.

However, Poland has the most precious metals in unmined reserves, despite not producing gold. The country is estimated to have approximately 170,000 tons of silver in reserves, yet to be mined.

Some precious metals include:

  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Platinum
  • Palladium
  • Rhodium
  • Ruthenium
  • Iridium
  • Osmium

Industrial metals are commonly used in manufacturing, construction and technology. The prices of some industrial metals are used as an indicator of economic growth.

Australia produces the most industrial metals, equaling almost 946.3 million tons. This includes approximately 944 million tons of iron ore and 1.2 million tons of zinc.

Australia also has the most industrial metals in unmined reserves, totalling nearly 58.2 billion tons. The country is estimated to have around 58 billion tons of iron ore and 100 million tons of copper in unexploited metal ore reserves.

Some industrial metals include:

  • Copper
  • Lithium
  • Nickel
  • Zinc
  • Iron/steel
  • Tungsten
  • Cobalt
  • Chromium

The unmined reserves of both precious and industrial metals are mined for profit around the world. However, it’s important to remember that there are only finite amounts of these commodities.

A critical shortage of metals can be caused by a variety of things, such as high levels of demand and the effects of climate change. Countries can avoid this issue by being aware of how much of each metal they have in reserve yet to be mined, as well as slowing down their rate of production.

However, if countries continue to mine metals at the current rate, they risk entering a critical shortage. If this happens, the price of the metal will increase globally. Not only will this make it more expensive to purchase, leading to decreased profitability in the industry, but it may also lead to production issues. This will then cause the price of certain products to increase and may lead to inflation.

An increase in the price of certain metals will, of course, benefit countries with high export levels. For example, countries such as Chile and Peru would welcome an increase in the price of copper.”

Gold

gold

China is producing the most gold, equaling the height of the Maravijaya Buddha monument
 

The country producing the most gold around the world is China, totalling approximately 375 metric tons. In terms of height, this is equal to 19 cubic metres. Also standing at 19 metres high is the Maravijaya Buddha monument in Naypyidaw, Myanmar. It is the world’s largest marble Buddha statue, weighing almost 5,300 metric tons.

china production of gold per year

Australia has the most gold in unmined reserves, with an estimated value of approximately $832.5 billion


Across the world, Australia is the country with the most gold in reserves yet to be extracted, totalling around 12,000 metric tons. This amount of gold is estimated to be worth approximately $832.5 billion.

Australia has the most gold in unmined reserves

Tanzania, China, Ghana and Mali are the countries closest to a critical shortage of gold


Tanzania is thought to have approximately 420 metric tons of gold in reserves yet to be mined. The country currently produces around 57 metric tons of gold. China is estimated to have 1,000 tons of gold yet to be mined. Producing 375 tons a year, the country is estimated to be around eight years from a critical shortage. Ghana produces around 127 tons of gold a year, and with 1,000 tons in reserves yet to be mined, the country is estimated to be eight years from a critical shortage. Mali is in a similar situation - with around 800 tons of gold ore yet to be extracted in reserves and annual production levels of 102 tons, the nation could be around eight years from facing a critical shortage.

Tanzania, China, Ghana and Mali are the countries closest to a critical shortage of gold

Silver

silver

Mexico is producing the most silver, almost equaling the height of the Ping An International Finance Centre


The country producing the most silver around the world is Mexico, totalling approximately 6,195 metric tons. In terms of height, this is equal to 591 cubic metres. This is almost the same height as the Ping An International Finance Centre in Shenzhen, China. The skyscraper is 115 storeys tall and is the second tallest building in the country.

Poland has the most silver in unmined reserves

Poland has the most silver in unmined reserves, with an estimated value of approximately $136.1 billion.
 

Across the world, Poland is the country with the most silver in unexploited metal ore reserves, totalling around 170,000 metric tons. This amount of silver is estimated to be worth approximately $136.1 billion.

Poland is the country with the most silver in unexploited metal ore reserves

Mexico is the country closest to a critical shortage of silver
 

Despite producing the most silver in the world, Mexico is the country closest to a critical shortage of the metal. As mentioned previously, the country currently produces around 6,195 metric tons of silver. However, with just 37,000 metric tons in reserves yet to be mined, it is estimated that Mexico will have a critical shortage of silver in just six years.


Mexico is the country closest to a critical shortage of the metal
 

Copper

Chile is producing the most copper, equaling over 67 times the height of Mount Everest

Chile is producing the most copper, equaling over 67 times the height of Mount Everest
 

The country producing the most copper around the world is Chile, totalling approximately 5.3 million tons. In terms of height, this is equal to 596,200 cubic metres. This is over 67 times the height of Mount Everest, which stands at 8,849 metres. It is the Earth’s highest mountain above sea level and is located in the Himalayas in Asia.

Chile has the most copper in unmined reserves

Chile has the most copper in unmined reserves, with an estimated value of approximately $1.7 trillion
 

Across the world, Chile is the country with the most copper in unmined reserves, totalling around 190 million metric tons. This amount of copper is estimated to be worth approximately $1.7 trillion.

Across the world, Chile is the country with the most copper in unmined reserves
 

Iron

iron

Australia is producing the most iron, equaling approximately 590 million tons of steel
 

The country producing the most iron around the world is Australia, totalling approximately 944 million iron ore (tons). It takes around 1.6 tons of iron ore to produce one ton of steel.

This means that approximately 590 million tons of steel are made from Australia’s iron production.

Australia has the most iron in unmined reserves

Australia has the most iron in unmined reserves, with an estimated value of approximately $6.4 trillion
 

Across the world, Australia is the country with the most iron in reserves yet to be mined, totalling around 58 billion iron ore (tons). The current value of iron per dry ton is $110.47. This means that Australia’s iron production is estimated to be worth approximately $6.4 trillion.

Australia’s iron production is estimated to be worth approximately $6.4 trillion

Turkey is the country closest to a critical shortage of iron
 

Turkey is thought to have approximately 152 million iron ore (tons) in unmined reserves. The country currently produces around 17.7 million tons of iron. This means that Turkey is thought to have a critical shortage of iron in just nine years.

Turkey is the country closest to a critical shortage of iron
 

Zinc

zinc

China is producing the most zinc, equaling over 64 times the height of Mount Everest

The country producing the most zinc is China, totalling approximately 4 million tons. In terms of height, this is equal to 566,400 cubic metres - 64 times the height of Mount Everest.

The country producing the most zinc is China
 

Australia has the most zinc in unmined reserves, with an estimated value of $159.1 billion

Across the world, Australia is the country with the most zinc in unexploited metal ore reserves, totalling around 64 million tons. This amount of zinc is estimated to be worth approximately $159.1 billion.

ustralia is the country with the most zinc in unexploited metal ore reserves
 

Nickel

Indonesia is producing the most nickel

Indonesia is producing the most nickel, equaling almost 21 times the height of Makalu mountain
 

The country producing the most nickel is Indonesia, totalling approximately 1.6 million metric tons. In terms of height, this is equal to 177,400 cubic metres. This is almost 21 times the height of Makalu mountain, which stands at 8,485 metres. The mountain is located in the Himalayas in Asia and is the fifth highest in the world.

Indonesia has the most nickel in unmined reserves

Indonesia has the most nickel in unmined reserves, with an estimated value of $972.3 billion
 

Indonesia also has the most nickel in reserves yet to be mined, totalling around 55 million metric tons. It is estimated that this amount of nickel is worth approximately $972.3 billion.

Indonesia also has the most nickel in reserves
 

The Philippines is the country closest to a critical shortage of nickel
 

The Philippines is thought to have approximately 4.8 million metric tons of nickel in unmined reserves. The country currently produces 345,000 metric tons of nickel. This means that the Philippines is thought to have a critical shortage of nickel in just 14 years.

The Philippines is thought to have approximately 4.8 million metric tons of nickel
 

Lithium

Lithium

Australia is producing the most lithium, equaling almost 16 times the height of Mount Everest
 

The country producing the most lithium is Australia, totalling approximately 74,700 tons. In terms of height, this is equal to 139,900 cubic metres. This is almost 16 times the height of Mount Everest.

The country producing the most lithium is Australia

Chile has the most lithium in unmined reserves, with an estimated value of $149.2 billion
 

Across the world, Chile is the country with the most lithium in reserves yet to be mined, totalling around 9.3 million tons. It is estimated that this amount of lithium is worth approximately $149.2 billion.

Chile is the country with the most lithium in reserves

Australia is the country closest to a critical shortage of lithium
 

Despite producing the most lithium in the world, Australia is the country closest to a critical shortage of the metal. As mentioned previously, the country currently produces around 74,700 tons of lithium. However, with just 6.2 million tons in unmined reserves, it is estimated that Australia will have a critical shortage of lithium in 83 years.

Australia is the country closest to a critical shortage of the metal
 

Cobalt

Cobalt

The Congo is producing the most cobalt, equaling almost two times the height of Annapurna
 

The country producing the most cobalt is the Congo (Kinshasa), totalling approximately 144,000 metric tons. In terms of height, this is equal to 16,180 cubic metres. This is almost two times the height of Annapurna I, which stands at 8,091 metres. The mountain is located in the Annapurna range in Nepal and is the tenth highest in the world.

Papua New Guinea is the country closest to a critical shortage of cobalt

The Congo has the most cobalt in unmined reserves, with an estimated value of $169.6 billion
 

The Congo also has the most cobalt in reserves yet to be mined, totalling around 6 million metric tons. It is estimated that this amount of cobalt is worth approximately $169.6 billion.

Congo also has the most cobalt in reserves yet to be mined

Papua New Guinea is the country closest to a critical shortage of cobalt
 

Papua New Guinea is thought to have approximately 49,000 metric tons of cobalt in reserves. The country currently produces around 3,000 metric tons of cobalt. This means that Papua New Guinea is thought to have a critical shortage of cobalt in just 16 years.

Papua New Guinea is thought to have approximately 49,000 metric tons of cobalt in reserves

Chromium

Chromium

 

South Africa is producing the most chromium, equaling 302 times the height of Mount Everest
 

The country producing the most chromium is South Africa, totalling approximately 19.1 million tons. In terms of height, this is equal to 2.7 million cubic metres. This is exactly 302 times the height of Mount Everest.

The country producing the most chromium is South Africa, totalling approximately 19.1 million tons

Kazakhstan is the country with the most chromium in unmined reserves
 

Across the world, Kazakhstan is the country with the most chromium in unexploited metal ore reserves, totalling around 230,000 tons. Currently, Kazakhstan produces approximately 6 million tons of chromium.

Kazakhstan is the country with the most chromium in unexploited metal ore reserves

Tungsten

tungsten production

China is producing the most tungsten, equaling the height of Mount Hood
 

The country producing the most tungsten is China, totalling approximately 66,000 tons. In terms of height, this is equal to 3,400 cubic metres. Also standing at 3,400 metres high is Mount Hood, which is located in the state of Oregon in the United States. The active stratovolcano is the state’s highest point and is part of the Cascade mountain range.

China is the country with the most tungsten in unmined reserves

China is the country with the most tungsten in unmined reserves
 

China also has the most tungsten in reserves yet to be mined, totalling around 2.3 million tons. As mentioned previously, China currently produces approximately 66,000 tons of tungsten. This means that China is likely to experience a critical shortage of tungsten in 35 years.

China is the country with the most tungsten in unmined reserve

Portugal is the country closest to a critical shortage of tungsten
 

Portugal is thought to have approximately 4,000 tons of tungsten in unmined reserves. The country currently produces around 500 tons of tungsten. This means that Portugal is thought to have a critical shortage of tungsten in just eight years.

Portugal is thought to have approximately 4,000 tons of tungsten in unmined reserves

Methodology:

We looked at 10 precious and industrial metals, including chromium, tungsten, lithium, cobalt, iron/ steel, zinc, copper, gold, nickel, and silver.

For each metal, we sourced the total weight produced in the most recent available year by each available country using U.S. Geological Survey Mineral Commodity Summaries. We converted all weights to tons. We also sourced the weight each available country has in unexploited metal ore reserves. We removed Ukraine and North Korea from our study. For iron/steel, we calculated the amount of steel produced by iron ore using the average yield of 62.5% sourced from BHP.

For gold production, we sourced global mine production, we considered the amount of gold each country produces, measured in tonnes. These figures were rounded to whole numbers, and the data was taken from the 31st December 2022. We included all countries with a production level of 50 tonnes and above.

We used Aqua-Calc to convert each production weight to metres3. We sourced the height of global natural structures and monuments using Wikipedia. For iron/ steel, we did not include a comparison to global natural structures or monuments due to the large amount of metal produced.

We calculated the estimated number of years until each country reaches a critical shortage of each available metal by dividing the total weight produced in the most recent available year by the total weight in unmined reserves.

We calculated the estimated value of each country's precious and industrial metal reserves yet to be mined, sourcing the value of silver, nickel, gold, copper, zinc, and iron ore using Business Insider at 20:13 on 19/03/2024. For cobalt, we sourced the value as of February 2024 using YCharts. For lithium, we sourced the value as of 19/03/2024 using DailyMetalPrice. For tungsten and chromium, the value was unavailable.