Gold in a modern world
Gold has been one of the most remarkable metals in the history of human civilisation. Its scarcity and visual appeal have seen it worshipped as a gift from the gods, form the basis of monetary systems and sent mining companies in some parts of the world more than three kilometres underground to produce it.
Unlike the metals and minerals that have defined early civilisations in the stone, bronze and iron ages, the use of gold by society has until recently remained broadly unchanged across several millennia.
While ancient stone, bronze and iron tools used by our ancestors have been replaced by modern materials, gold today is still used mostly as it was in the great civilisations of the ancient world – for jewellery or money.
However, gold’s role in the world economy is expanding.
Modern science and technologies are now finding new applications for this rare metal. The World Gold Council’s report Gold 2048: The Next 30 of Gold highlighted many of the amazing ways in which gold is being used in modern society – from components in smart phones to circuits in electric vehicles and increasingly in modern medicine.
While gold is scarce, its remarkable chemical and physical properties make it an incredibly useful material despite its high price.
As the country with the largest known gold resources in the world, Australia has a significant opportunity to supply the world’s growing demand for gold.
Australia’s world leading gold industry
Australia has a long and proud history of gold mining which has shaped our country in many ways.
Gold not only spurred Australia’s first mining boom, it triggered the gold rushes of the late 19th century that brought people from all around the world for an opportunity to make their fortunes in the new goldfields of Bathurst, Ballarat, Bendigo and then Kalgoorlie.
From 1851 to 1860 Australia’s population is estimated to have trebled largely due to this mining boom.
Since then Australian gold miners have modernised and expanded to become a world leading mining industry that sets new benchmarks in technology, sustainability, safety and community engagement.
In 2019 Australia produced nearly 320 tonnes of gold, which made it the second largest gold producer in the world behind China.
Australia’s gold exports generated $24 billion in export revenue in 2019, which supported over 30,000 highly skilled, highly paid jobs – mostly in regional and remote areas – earning an average wage of around $140,000, according to ABS data.
The gold industry is also an important contributor to government revenues and has paid more than $2.5 billion in royalties to state governments over the last decade.
The application of new technologies, data analysis and innovative processes has enabled Australia’s gold industry to unlock new resources, boost productivity, better protect the environment, enhance worker safety and generate additional value for the wider community.
The gold industry continues to enrich Australia 165 years after the first rush. From exports to jobs in remote communities, innovation and best practice environmental management, Australia’s gold industry is a vital part of our sophisticated modern 21st century mining industry and economy.
More than a rich seam from our past, Australia’s gold industry is a wonderful national asset now and into the future.