You might imagine that all of the above-ground gold in the world would cover a country (especially if you saw the dwarves’ hoard in The Lord of The Rings!).
While it’s certainly worth squabbling over, it’s actually a lot less grandiose than that.
There are varying figures from varying sources, but here’s the mean average on just how much pure gold bullion is sitting around in the world.
You’d need a couple of trucks and a good few hours to haul all of the gold in the world away, but with a big enough team, it could be done in a day.
For those project-minded, that might be a better snapshot of the total gold volume.
Famous investor Warren Buffett has said he believes all of the bullion in the world would fit into a cube of 20 meters wide by 20 meters long by 20 meters high.
That’s substantial－and that cube would make a great gift for the person who has everything!－but it’s still imaginable, unlike the treasure hoards depicted in Hollywood movies.
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It certainly gives you an idea of why gold is so precious because, for all of the wars and excavations and centuries of extraction, you’d expect the volume to be more, not so?
Investors typically quote the Thomson Reuters GFMS figure, as the company does a benchmark gold survey each year.
Their current estimates peg bullion at 180,000 tons, which is an amount that would indeed fit into Buffett’s cube, more or less.
Thomson Reuters acquired Gold Fields Mineral Services in 2011, and has maintained their annual gold research since.
Beyond the GFMS figures
Other knowledgeable estimates peg the amount of gold in the world at just over 150,000 tons, while the top-end estimates peg it at a whopping 2.7 million tons.
The World Gold Council puts the figure at around 190,000 tons, and they base it on government reserves and estimated private holdings too.
There might be some very slight advantage to over or underestimating the total volume for brokers and others in a moment of salesmanship, but it’s not that anyone source is trying to misquote the volume of the world’s gold for financial gain.
There are a few reasons why it’s hard to be accurate with a figure.
Firstly, gold inspires secrecy!
While government reserves are ostensibly public knowledge, in the case of American for one, no one has been allowed to audit the US gold reserves for decades, giving rise to speculation that the USA ain’t got any gold reserves anymore!
With governments, anything’s possible of course, but the official US figures on total world gold sit at around 250,000 tons, but then they’re counting “historical” gold too, putting current gold in the 160,000 to 180,000 tones range－pretty much square with the others.
There’s also gold mining and hoarding China, always loathe to let any information slip, as well as the looted treasures of times ancient, which in the past must have totaled thousands of tons as grave robbers carried them off, piece by piece.
Secondly, gold mining has been happening for a long, long time!
Beyond the gold bullion known to be in reserve or private ownership today, lie probably several (hundred?) thousand tons more in the hands of people who really have no incentive to declare that to the IRS!
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