Do we know how much Gold there is around?

by Björn Schöpe

June 20, 2013 – Did you ever think about how much gold exists? The BBC’s Ed Prior did and it is indeed quite fascinating what he reflected about. He starts with a question that evokes an image: if we put together all gold in the world (minted gold, mind you) what space would it cover? And there, naturally, the problem starts. How much gold is there? Hundreds of thousands of tonnes? Millions of tonnes? Well, there are both answers and, unfortunately, we don’t know which one is correct.

According to Thomson Reuters GFMS, which produces an annual gold survey, the amount of gold in the world would be about 171,300 tonnes. We might hence imagine all the gold melted down and cast into a cube of 20 metres per side. Would you ever have imagined that? But this figure is by no means undisputed.
Gold expert James Turk believes that in the pre-industrial era before Columbus’s arrival to America far less gold had been excavated than generally estimated. Instead of the 12,780 tonnes figured out by the GFMS, Turk takes only 297 tonnes for sure. Certainly, his conclusions are not accepted by everybody. But this does not make so great a difference, anyhow. The private company The Gold Standard Institute for example estimates 2.5 million tonnes of gold to exist – above the ground. In that case our cube would be of sides 50 metres long.
Ed Prior reminds us that there are estimated 52,000 tonnes of gold still to be mined. But he also points out that, contrary to the past, today gold is actually being consumed since the micro quantities used in modern technology are no longer recycled. So there the real problem might start one day.

Don’t miss Ed Prior’s article on the BBC website.

You can read an essay of James Turk in which he explains his estimation here.

This is the GFMS website.

As for the opinions of the Gold Standard Institute’s experts visit their website.

← back

Subscribe to our newsletter now

Get the latest news from the world of numismatics promptly delivered once a week by email.

Thanks. I'm already a subscriber.