No other raw material exerts such fascination on people as gold. Gold is rare, almost indestructible and extremely noble. For a long time, gold was reserved primarily for the rich and powerful, and even today it is considered a precious commodity that also retains its value.
But before the much sought-after gold is ready for production, the precious metal goes through a long process. First of all, it must be found and dismantled. But before gold is in its pure form and ready for manufacturing, it has to go through refining after mining.
The effort involved in gold production is therefore enormous, so it is not surprising that gold production worldwide is almost invariably dominated by just a few large mining companies that keep all production steps in one hand, from discovery to refining.
Global gold deposit
Gold has been closely associated with human history as a coveted and precious metal since more than 4000 years BC. Modern gold mining, however, has absolutely nothing to do with the gold mining mythology of earlier times.
While in the past even the Rhine or the Danube were searched for gold, professional gold mining nowadays is purely based on profitability. To this day, gold is considered a rare and therefore precious metal. But in fact, gold is not that rare, as some 30 billion tons of gold are thought to exist in the earth’s crust. However, the concentration in the earth’s crust is usually only one millionth of a percent. Commercial mining is therefore only worthwhile in a few places on earth.
Thus, most gold is mined in China. In addition, Australia, the USA, Russia and South Africa in particular have large gold deposits that are worth mining commercially.
Different methods of gold mining
The oldest method of extracting gold is washing the precious metal from rivers. Nowadays, there is a whole range of mining methods. In addition to traditional methods, there are also innovative and sustainable methods that are more or less environmentally friendly and ecological.
The particular mining method depends first of all on the type of gold deposit. Thus, there are primary and secondary deposits. Gold from a primary deposit must first be extracted from the rock mass, while gold in secondary deposits has already dissolved from the rock.
Depending on where it is found, gold can be mined by open pit or underground mining. Underground mining sometimes takes place up to several thousand meters below ground. For example, South Africa is home to the deepest gold mine in the world. There, the gold is mined at a depth of about 4000 meters.
One of the traditional mining methods that is still widely used today is the anode slurry process. Copper, which contains gold, is decomposed in an electrochemical process to produce fine gold.