Gold mining has gone global, with 90 countries currently digging for the precious metal. However, 75% of the total gold production is still produced by just 20 countries. Since the beginning of 2013, gold prices have fallen 20%, hitting their lowest level in three years. But that's after experiencing an unprecedented five year explosion in the value of the precious metal. There are many theories why the price of gold increased so much so quickly, but the generally accepted reason is that gold is a safe investment. On the other hand, when the economy is ostensibly on the mend, there is less need for those safe commodity investments like gold. Put simply, as the economy begins to recover, people are shifting their investments out of "disaster" mode. But even when the price of slips, demand for gold products is still extremely high. Whether people want gold as an investment, or as a precious metal in our watches, rings, necklaces, earrings, and if you're a rapper, teeth… Let's take a look at the Top 10 Gold Producing Countries in the World:
Mine production: 89 tons
Official gold holdings: 8.7 tons
Ghana's estimated gold reserves sit at 1,600 tons. From 2011 to 2012, the country's gold production grew by 17%, largely due to the rising prices of gold encouraging Ghanaian miners to increase production. Ghana's 8.7 tons of gold are equal to 8.4% of their total foreign currency.
Mine production: 90 tons
Official gold holdings: Not reported
Uzbekistan has over 40 gold deposits according to their State Geological Committee. Their reserve estimate is 1,700 tons, and Uzbekistan is aiming to get to 120 tons of gold production per year. The country's largest gold producers are Navoi Mining and Metallurgy Combinat with gold deposits valued at more than $500 billion.
Mine production: 95 tons
Official gold holdings: 73.1 tons
Indonesian's political unrest caused the countries gold output to shrink slightly. Illegal mining operations also created blockages to new project development from 2011 to 2012. Indonesia's total gold reserves are estimated at 3,000 tons, and Indonesian gold holdings of 73.1 tons is 3.7% of total foreign currency.
Mine production: 102 tons
Official gold holdings: 3.4 tons
Canada's gold production is not as high as they once were, with their official holdings at 3.4 tons, just 0.3% of their total foreign currency. That said, Canadian firm Barrick Gold had the highest production levels of all gold producing companies in 2012 with 7.42 million ounces.
Mine production: 165 tons
Official gold holdings: 34.7 tons
Peru's gold production dropped by 3% in 2012. The official gold holdings of Peruvian gold producers is 34.7 tons, 3.1% of their total foreign currency.
#5. South Africa
Mine production: 170 tons
Official gold holdings: 125 tons
2012 was South Africa's worst year of gold production since 1905 due to gold mine strikes. This caused South African gold output to be only about 6% of total production worldwide. AngloGold Ashanti, based in Johannesburg, is the third-largest gold-producing company in the world with reported reserves of 74.1 million ounces at the end of 2012. Official gold holdings in South Africa are 125 tons, or 12.7 percent of total foreign reserves.
Mine production: 205 tons
Official gold holdings: 937.8 tons
The Russian gold reserves are believed to be 5,000 tons and production of this precious metal increased by 6.8% in 2012. Russia's official gold holdings are 937.8 tons, which is 9.9%of total foreign currency.
#3. United States
Mine production: 230 tons
Official gold holdings: 8,133.5 tons
The U.S.'s gold production dropped 4 tons in 2012 compared to 2011, but was still valued at $12.6 billion. US-based Newmont Mining is one of the world's top producers of gold and delivered output of 4.98 million ounces of gold in 2012, through operations on five continents including two in North America. The U.S.'s official gold holdings are the largest in the world at 8,133.5 tons, or 76.3% of total foreign currency reserves.
Mine production: 250 tons
Official gold holdings: 79.9 tons
Australia's primary gold mines are in Western Australia, South Australia and New South Wales. About two-thirds of global gold production comes from Western Australian mines, and the entire continent has gold reserves of 7,400 tons. Australia's official gold holdings amount to 79.9 tons, which is 8.5% of total foreign currency reserves.
Mine production: 403 tons
Official gold holdings: 1,054.1 tons
China led the world in gold production for the sixth year in a row in 2012. Chinese gold production increased 11.7% that year, which is 100 times their 1949 production level. China has also doubled their gold output since 2003. China's largest gold producer is the Zijin Mining Group, with 2,770,428 ounces of gold in 2011. The country's official gold holdings are 1,054.1 tons, or 1.7% of total foreign reserves.