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How much gold is there left to mine in the world? Last month the price of gold hit a record high, pushing above $2,000 (£1,575) an ounce. While this price rise was driven by gold traders, it begs the question about the supply of the precious metal, and when it will eventually run out. Gold is in hot demand as an investment, a status symbol, and a key component in many electronic products. But it's also a finite resource, and there will eventually come a stage when there is none left to be mined. Peak gold Experts talk about the concept of peak gold - when we have mined the most we ever can in any one year. Some believe we may have already reached that point. Gold mine production totalled 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. "While the growth in mine supply may slow or decline slightly in the coming years, as existing reserves are exhausted, and new major discoveries become increasingly rare, suggesting that production has peaked may still be a little premature," says Hannah Brandstaetter, a spokesman for the World Gold Council. Even when peak gold happens, experts say the years immediately after it are not likely to see a dramatic decrease in production. Instead, we could see a gradual depletion of output over a few decades. "Mine production has flat-lined, and is likely on a downward trajectory, but not dramatically so," adds Ross Norman of MetalsDaily.com. So how much is left? Mining companies estimate the volume of gold that remains in the ground in two ways: Reserves - gold that is economic to mine at the current gold price Resources - gold that will potentially become economic to mine after further investigation, or at a higher price level The volume of gold reserves can be calculated more accurately than resources, although this is still not an easy task. 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, although estimates do vary. Based on these rough figures, there is about 20% still to be mined. But this is a moving target. New technologies may make it possible to extract some known reserves that aren't currently economical to access. The most recent innovations include big data, AI, and smart data mining, which can potentially optimise processes and bring down costs. Robotics are already being used at some sites, and are expected to increasingly become standard technologies in mine exploration. More at Source
It's unclear how quickly China will try to phase out cryptocurrency mining. Enlarge / Mining operations outside China, like this one in Russia, could benefit if the Chinese government cracks down on cryptocurrency mining. OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images The Chinese government is considering a nationwide ban on mining bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Every few years, China's National Development and Reform Commission publishes a list of industries the agency wants to encourage, restrict, or eliminate because they are unsafe, illegal, or bad for the environment. The latest list, published this week, includes cryptocurrency mining on the list of industries to phase out. A Chinese ban on cryptocurrency mining would be a huge deal for the global bitcoin community. In recent years, China has come to dominate both the manufacturing of bitcoin mining hardware and the operation of bitcoin mining pools. A Chinese ban on bitcoin mining would transform the bitcoin mining industry, creating openings for bitcoin mining operations elsewhere in the world to gain market share. And that would be significant because bitcoin miners wield significant influence over the evolution of the Bitcoin platform. But it's not clear how serious the government is about the proposed ban. The new list of banned industries is only a proposal—the Chinese government is soliciting public comment on the draft before it becomes official. Even if the list is ultimately adopted as government policy, it's not clear how aggressively it would be enforced Techcrunch points to a skeptical tweet by venture capitalist Dovey Wan: "NDRC updates a new version of such proposal every other 3-5 years since early 2000," she wrote. "Items that should be eliminated by end of 2006 are still in the 2011 and 2019 versions." Still, there have been other recent signs that the Chinese government is souring on the cryptocurrency sector. In late 2017, in the midst of that year's cryptocurrency boom, China banned retail cryptocurrency trading. In January 2018, a Chinese regulator said it wanted to see an "orderly exit" from the cryptocurrency mining business. Another possible explanation for China's recent moves: the government hopes to shift the Chinese public toward blockchain-based platforms more amenable to state control. "The NDRC's move is in line overall with China's desire to control different layers of the rapidly growing crypto industry," investor Jehan Chu told Reuters. "I believe China simply wants to 'reboot' the crypto industry into one that they have oversight on, the same approach they took with the Internet." Source: Chinese government proposes ban on bitcoin mining (Ars Technica)