Raw material gold – no other material is so associated with luxury, elegance and durability. Gold has been used in the form of jewelry for thousands of years and was probably already used as currency around 560 BC. In this function, however, the raw material gold is no longer used for almost 50 years. Today, coins as well as gold bars are an attractive investment and are considered a crisis-proof investment. The way from the raw material gold to the piece of jewelry, to the coin or to the gold bar is long. After the gold has been mined, it is refined and then manufactured. In this way, even the rock, which at first hardly differs from any other, becomes one of the most valuable materials in the world.
In this article we invite you to get to know the raw material gold better and tell you where and how gold is mined.
What is gold mined for and where?
You are wearing a piece of gold jewelry, such as yellow gold earrings or rose gold pendants from one of the VIVA collections, and you ask yourself the question: Where is gold mined? One thing is for sure: the raw material gold is rare in the world, although it can be found almost everywhere in the earth’s crust. But unfortunately, in many cases the amount of the raw material gold is too small, so that mining is only really worthwhile in certain areas. In gold mining, a distinction is made between primary gold, which comes from mines and quarries, and secondary gold, which is extracted by the famous gold digging. In particular, mining in gold mines involves considerable effort, as it is stuck in the rock mantle up to 4,500 meters deep here and can only be extracted using special methods.
The largest consumption of gold as a raw material is in jewelry processing. Around 2,000 tons are used annually. As a rule, gold is an alloy component and is mixed with other metals such as copper, platinum, palladium or silver. Pure gold is too soft for jewelry production. Further shares of the raw material gold fall to the production of gold coins and gold bars. The German Bundesbank alone has gold reserves of more than 3,359 tons, making it second in the world after the USA.
Gold is also used in industry due to its specific properties, such as corrosion resistance or conductivity, and is an ideal material for the production of switching contacts, plug connections or wires. In the aerospace industry, the raw material gold can be found in satellites or as a coating for probes or helmets as well as space suits. Even in medicine, gold has gained great importance in recent decades, for example in the field of aesthetic dental technology.
Where is the gold raw material located?
Today, gold mining is mainly carried out by industrial open-pit and underground mining. The largest mines are located in China, India, Australia, the USA, Russia and South Africa, among others. In addition, artisanal and small-scale mining also plays a role in developing countries and serves as an important source of livelihood for many families here, with the result that, according to estimates, almost 20 million people are financially dependent on the mining of gold as a raw material. Fortunately, there are quite a number of governmental and non-governmental initiatives that take care of responsible gold mining according to internationally recognized minimum standards.
China is one of the largest producers of gold, followed by Australia and Russia. However, since China hardly exports any gold, Australia is the largest gold exporting country in the world – China, on the other hand, is at the same time the largest importing country, despite its own production. This is due to the fact that a large part of the raw material gold is refined here and then exported.
The largest gold mine in the world is the Nevada Gold Mines, in which several large companies are involved. In second place is the Muruntau in Uzbekistan, known as the deepest gold mine, as it were. The third largest and most productive gold mine, as well as the largest copper mine in the world, is Grasberg in Indonesia.
The flip side of the coin in gold mining?
Not everywhere the same rules apply to the mining of the raw material gold. In many countries, such as Sudan, Zimbabwe or the Democratic Republic of Congo, the raw material gold is organized by rebels and civil war parties. The profits from gold mining are used to finance weapons that are used in wars against the civilian population. As a result, back in 2012, the U.S. developed the Frank-Dodd Act, which requires proof of origin of gold upon importation. In the EU, the Corporate Social Responsibility Directive applies, which includes voluntary documentation.
The raw material gold and the importance of gold recycling?
Gold is a limited resource on our planet. It is assumed that the known deposits amount to around 54,000 tons, which means that the reserves would be sufficient for a maximum of 15 years. At the same time, the cost of gold mining is immense. To extract just 10 grams of the raw material gold, more than 5 tons of ore have to be mined. Gold mining usually involves the use of toxic substances such as mercury and cyanide, and thus places a considerable burden on the environment. Wherever gold is mined, nature has to give way. The clearing of forests or the shutting down of rivers is often necessary for gold mining. A sensible alternative is therefore to use recycled gold. For this purpose, scrap gold is collected, melted down again and made usable. Gold recycling usually takes place in so-called refineries, which recover the raw material gold using methods that are less harmful to the environment. Gold does not lose value in the process. VIVA focuses on sustainability and therefore already on the raw material gold from recycling processes. So you can access the jewelry from our store with a clear conscience.