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Gold facts

Gold is a precious metal commonly used for investments and jewellery (rings, necklaces, watches, etc.). However, the numerous desirable properties of gold, such as superior electric conductivity and resistance to corrosion, has also made it an important input into many electrical and technology applications.

Key facts

  • Gold is Canada's most valuable mined commodity, with a production value of $12.3 billion in 2020
  • Gold is mined in nine Canadian provinces and territories, with the majority coming from Ontario and Quebec that together accounted for 71% of mined gold production in Canada in 2020
  • Canadian mines produced 182 tonnes of gold in 2020, ranking Canada as the fifth largest global producer

Learn more about gold

Uses

In 2020, gold demand for investment purposes reached 47%, overtaking jewelry at 38% as its primary use.

The uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 was largely responsible for the 40% increased use of gold as an investment.

Investors buy gold in the form of wafers, bars and coins, believed to offer a measure of protection from the risks of inflation and market volatility. Gold-backed exchange-traded funds (ETF) are another source of investment demand for gold.

Approximately 8.0% of the demand for gold is for use in technology applications, mostly as a component of micro-circuitry in a range of electronic products.

Gold uses, 2011-2020 (p)

line graph
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This line graph shows the global uses for gold from 2011 to 2020. Jewellery generally ranges between 44% to 60% share of demand with a sharp drop to 38% in 2020. Investment generally ranges from 19% to 38% of demand with a sharp rise to 47% in 2020. Technology ranges between 7% and 11% and saw an 8% share of demand in 2020. Central banks and other institutions range between 2% and 15% and ended 2020 with a sharp drop to 8% share of demand.

Gold demand, 2020 (p)

circular chart
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This circular chart shows the global demand for gold in 2020. The largest share of gold uses was investment (47.2%), followed by jewellery (37.5 %), technology (8.0 %) and central bank net purchases (7.3%).

Production

Canadian mines produced an estimated 182 tonnes of gold in 2020, which is a 78% increase over gold production in 2010, and a 1% increase compared to 2019. In 2020, mine production increased in Quebec, Manitoba and in the Other P/T category (includes: Nunavut, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Yukon, Newfoundland and Alberta) while production fell in Ontario, and British Columbia. Ontario and Quebec produced 71% of the gold mined in Canada in 2020. The following pie chart shows the share of each gold producing jurisdiction by their percentage of 2020 preliminary production.

Canadian gold production, by region, 2020 (p)

circular chart
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This circular chart graph shows Canada's annual gold mine production for 2020. Ontario was the leading producer of gold in Canada at 73.8 tonnes (40.5%), followed by Quebec at 56.3 tonnes (30.9%), British Columbia at 19.0 tonnes (10.4%), Manitoba at 2.7 tonnes (1.5%) and other provinces and territories at 30.6 t (16.8%).

Canadian gold production, 2011–2020 (p)

bar graph
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This bar graph shows Canada's annual gold mine production from 2011 to 2020. Production was 102.6 tonnes in 2011 and steadily increased towards a peak of 192 tonnes in 2018. Production decreased slightly in 2019 and increased slightly in 2020 to 182 tonnes.

International context

Global gold mine production reached an estimated 3,200 tonnes in 2020, a 3% decrease from 2019. 

The top five gold-producing countries accounted for 43% of the world's annual gold output in 2020. Canada ranked fifth, with 6% of global mined production.

World gold mine production, by country, 2020 (p)
Ranking Country Tonnes Percentage of total
1 China 380 11.9%
2 Australia 320 10.0%
3 Russia 300 9.4%
4 United States 190 5.9%
5 Canada 182 5.7%
6 Ghana 140 4.4%
- Other countries 1,688 52.8%
World total   3,200 100.0%

World gold mine production, 2011–2020 (p)

bar graph
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This bar graph shows the world's annual gold mine production from 2011 to 2020. Production was 2,630 tonnes in 2011 followed by a gradual increase to 3,300 tonnes in 2018 and 2019 and a small decrease to 3,200 tonnes in 2020.

World reserves

Gold mineral ore reserve estimations are based on ore that can be considered reasonably, economical and technically extractable at the time of estimation. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, world reserves of gold ore were estimated at 53,000 tonnes in 2020.

World reserves of gold, by country, 2020 (p)
Ranking Country Tonnes (thousands)
1 Australia 10.0
2 Russia 7.5
3 United States 3.0
4 South Africa 2.7
5 Peru 2.7
6 Indonesia 2.6
7 Brazil 2.4
8 Canada 2.2
- Other countries 20.0
Total   53.0

Trade

Exports

  • The value of Canadian gold exports in 2020 was $23.7 billion, a 6% increase from the previous year’s total of $22.3 billion.
  • Canada exported 6.5 million ounces of gold to the United Kingdom, accounting for 70% of Canada’s gold exports. Gold flows to the United Kingdom in part because of its role as financial hub for global gold trade, as international investors purchase and sell gold on the London Bullion Market Association.
  • Canada’s exports of unwrought gold decreased to 287 tonnes in 2020, down from 366 tonnes in 2019. However, the value of unwrought gold exports increased to $21.3 billion in 2020, up from $20.7 billion in 2019, a reflection of higher prices.
  • The value of Canadian gold exports in metal ores and concentrates increased to $1,030.9 million in 2020, up from $845.8 million in 2019.

Imports

  • The value of all forms of gold imports in Canada was $15.6 billion in 2020, up from $9.6 billion in 2019.
  • Canada imported 242 tonnes of unwrought gold in 2020, valued at $11.6 billion. This is a decrease in volume but an increase in value compared to 2019, when imports totaled 315 tonnes and were valued at $7.5 billion.

Prices

Gold prices fluctuated significantly over the last decade from US$1,360 per troy ounce in January 2011 up to US$1,756 per troy ounce in August. Prices generally declined from October 2012 until September 2018, when gold prices started to initiate a recovery.

In 2020, gold prices reached record levels over US$2,000 per ounce by mid‑year as investors flocked to the safe‑haven commodity during the uncertainty brought on by the pandemic. Gold prices have since come down, but remain at historically high levels.

Gold prices, monthly average, 2011–2020

(US$/fineFootnote * troy ounce)

line graph
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This line graph shows the monthly average gold price in US dollars per troy ounce from 2011 to 2020. The price increased to a peaked of $1,756 in August 2011, declining thereafter to a low of $1,198.47 in September 2018. The gold price generally increased to reach a new peak in August 2020 at $1,968.57 and ended 2020 at $1,855.96 per troy ounce.

Recycling

Gold is continually being recycled, often in the form of old jewellery that is melted down for reuse. A major motivation for consumers to sell or hold on to their gold jewellery is the price of gold in their respective currencies.

When gold prices rise, it usually increases the supply that is available for scrap (recycled gold).   Recycled gold supply increased to 1,297 tonnes in 2020, up from 1,282 tonnes in 2019.

Recovering gold from end-of-life electronics is an additional and major contributor to the global scrap supply.

Notes and sources

(p) preliminary

Totals may be different because of rounding.

All dollars are Canadian unless otherwise indicated.

Uses

  • Gold uses, 2020 (p)
    • World Gold Council

Production

  • Canadian gold production, by region, 2020 (p)
    • Statistics Canada
    • Suppression of confidential data by Statistics Canada renders production numbers for some provinces unavailable.
  • Canadian gold production, 2011–2020 (p)
    • Natural Resources Canada, Statistics Canada

International context

  • World gold mine production, by country, 2020 (p)
    • U.S. Geological Surveys
  • World gold mine production, 2011–2020 (p)
    • U.S. Geological Surveys
  • World reserves of gold, by country, 2020 (p)
    • U.S. Geological Surveys

Trade

  • Imports and exports of Canadian gold, 2020 (p)
    • Natural Resources Canada; Statistics Canada
    • Mineral trade includes ores, concentrates, and semi- and final-fabricated mineral products.

Prices

  • Gold prices, monthly average, 2011–2020
    • The London Bullion Market Association (PM Fix)

Recycling

  • Recycled Gold Supply, 2020
    • World Gold Council
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