Will there be gold mines 30 years from now?
News Arnulf Hinkel, financial journalist – 19.07.2018
Since the mid-1970s, the total amount of gold mined worldwide has doubled. By the end of 2017, some 190,000 tonnes of gold had been produced. Mark Fellows, Head of Mine Supply at precious metals consultancy Metals Focus, estimates that a further 97,000 tonnes would have to be mined by 2048 to meet current demand in the long term.
Just over half of future gold demand is considered available
According to Metals Focus, and given the current state of technology, only 55,000 tonnes of gold are available for production, which would put an end to gold mining as we know it in about 15 years. Although further deposits within known mineral resources comprising 110,000 tonnes of gold have been located, some of it has not been finally tested for profitable recovery – and the remainder has already been classified as unprofitable by today's standards.
Challenges to gold mining increase
According to Michelle Ash, Chief Innovation Officer of Barrick Gold Corporation, the requirements regarding environmental compatibility will continue to increase, as will the need for cost-effectiveness. Ash believes that these problems could be addressed, at least in part, through smaller, more cost-efficient processing units and an increased focus on the gold deposits in the world's oceans. Greater automation of the mining processes would also be essential to make gold mining more profitable and, at the same time, safer for miners. In the study "Gold 2048: The next 30 years for gold", John Reade, Head of Research and Chief Market Strategist of the World Gold Council, also sees classic gold mining under pressure in the future. He claims that even though gold mines will certainly still exist in three decades – including some that are already active today – new mine supply will decline over the next 30 years. That’s if there won’t be any major gold deposit discoveries like Witwatersand in 1886.