Preface. Both articles below offer the usual techno-optimism of more gold supplies from Man’s Cleverness: robots, AI, and Big and Smart Data Mining.
But both are energy blind. Ores are decreasing in gold concentrations, and found in deeper and more remote places, requiring more energy to process. Where will this energy come from?
Conventional crude oil production leveled off in 2005, and it appears to have peaked in 2008 at 69.5 million barrels per day (mb/d) according to Europe’s International Energy Agency (IEA 2018 p45). The U.S. Energy Information Agency shows global peak crude oil production at a later date in 2018 at 82.9 mb/d (EIA 2020) because they included tight oil, oil sands, and deep-sea oil. World coal may have peaked in 2013.
So where’s the energy to mine, transport ore, smelt it, and distribute the gold?
Harper J (2020) How much gold is there left to mine in the world? BBC.
Discoveries of large deposits are becoming increasingly rare, experts say. As a result, most gold production currently comes from older mines that have been in use for decades. There are relatively few unexplored regions left for gold-mining, although possibly the most promising are in some of the more unstable parts of the world, such as in West Africa.
Gold is a finite resource, and there will eventually come a stage when there is none left to be mined. Some believe we may have already reached that point. Gold mine production totaled 3,531 tonnes in 2019, 1% lower than in 2018, according to the World Gold Council. This is the first annual decline in production since 2008.
The below-ground stock of gold reserves is currently estimated to be around 50,000 tonnes, according to the US Geological Survey. To put that in perspective, around 190,000 tonnes of gold has been mined in total.
…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…