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GoldGold Nugget

Gold with its metallic yellow lustre is the most recognisable metal in the world. Used worldwide in jewellery, bullion and coins it is a renowned investment metal however it also has an evolving range of industrial and medical applications.

PropertiesGold Element Coin

Gold is a chemical element, with the symbol AU on the periodic table. An excellent conductor of electricity, it does not tarnish and is the most non reactive of all metals. It is an ideal material for melting, casting and polishing.  The ductility and malleability of gold allow 1 ounce to be stretched into an 80 kilometre long thread, 5 microns thick; twenty times thinner than human hair. 1 ounce could also be hammered into a sheet 0.000018cm thick spreading over 9m2. 

 

 

Gold WireGold Leaf

Traditional Gold Uses

These qualities combined with its appearance make gold highly desirable for use in jewellery making, the history of which dates back at least 7000 years.  Gold has been used as currency for 2700 years, with the first recorded use in the Persian Empire.  Gold coins are now not used anywhere in the world as daily currency but they are still struck and held as investment items.  Gold bars are the most prevalent form of bullion.  It is estimated that 20%-25% of the world's gold is held as bullion in central bank vaults. 

 

Non Traditional Gold Uses

Gold Plated Electrical Connectors

The properties of gold have rendered it essential to modern electronics. Gold is used to construct or electro plate components including connectors, relay contacts, soldered joints and connection wires and strips. The aerospace industry uses gold as a lubricant in mechanical parts for space travel, due to its ability to be non reactive under intense radiation.

Gold is commonly used in dentistry as an alloy to create fillings and teeth. There are now also medically significant uses involving the use of radioactive gold as a treatment for cancer and as a medium for diagnosis. A diluted solution containing gold can be used as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.

Global Demand

The global demand for gold is increasing. China, Australia and Russia and the United States are the largest producers of gold. More steel is made every hour than the amount of gold that has ever been extracted. The estimated total weight of mined gold totals 161,000 tonnes; the current rate of gold mining is approximately 3000 tonnes per annum.

Map of Gold Production

 

A Consumable Productinside of phone gold 2

This demand is accentuated because for the first time in history gold is being used as a consumable product. This is due to the small amounts used in electronic products such as phones, laptops and tabletlandfill phoness that are not recycled. For example every mobile phone made has on average 50 cents worth of gold in it; over 1 billion phones are made per annum. This equates to, in the region of, 50 tonnes of gold used solely in phones every year. It is estimated that Americans alone dispose of 130 million phones into landfill each year, removing 6.5 tonnes of gold from circulation.

 

The Value of Gold

Gold is unlike most other commodoties which are valued primarily by supply and demand. The value of gold is determined  by numerous factors. The key factors are: the demand for gold particularly for jewellery but also in industry, the amount of gold held by central banks, the value of the US dollar and investment in gold to hedge against currency devaluation and inflation.   The combination of economic imperatives and the desirability of gold jewellery have maintained the value of gold for millenia. 

Gold Price Chart

Sources

Geology.com www.geology.com

The Royal Society of Chemisty www.rsc.org

Scientific American www.scientificamerican.com

The World Gold Council www.gold.org

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