From the Earth to Your Vault: The Incredible Journey of Gold

The Spotlight

5 minutes read

Feb 7, 2023

gold miners working at a gold mining site and an investor standing on a pile of gold bars on a pink background

What happens to tiny gold nuggets to become gold bars and coins? Here's everything you need to know about gold's journey from a mine to your vault.

Have you ever wondered how tiny gold nuggets turn into gold coins that you keep in your safe or secure vault? 🕰️

What makes these little precious metal bits take on that funny rectangular shape that we call gold bars?

Of course, we at GOLD AVENUE have already asked ourselves these questions. And because we're the official retailer of the MKS PAMP GROUP, the world's leading precious metals company, we have the answers!😉

So buckle up: we're heading underground to explore the evolution of gold.💰

Gold mining: how does it work?

gold mining site with construction vehicles carrying rocks

Even though gold panning enthusiasts enjoy sifting through river sand in search of gold, mining is still the most effective way to find the yellow precious metal.

It's true that mining isn't a brand-new activity. It had its golden era (no pun intended) during the gold rush of the 19th century.

Since then, mining sites have popped up all over the world to meet the growing demand for gold.

The world’s largest gold mines

Over the course of history, humanity has extracted about 170,000 tons of gold. The world's most productive (and well-known) gold mines are:

  • The Grasberg mine in Indonesia's Papua province. This 600-meter-deep mine was discovered in 1936 and today employs around 30,000 people.
  • The Muruntau mine in Uzbekistan. It is the world's biggest open-pit gold mine, which has been active since 1958.
  • The Carlin Trend mine. One of the most significant mining sites in the United States was discovered in 1961 and today counts around 2,200 employees.

How much gold do we have left?

It’s no secret that there is only a limited supply of gold on Earth. That’s what makes the precious yellow metal so valuable.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates there are still 57,000 tons of gold to mine!

💡What happens after all the gold in the world is mined?

We have some good news! Gold is recyclable as it can be melted down again and again without losing any of its quality.

Today, gold that has been recycled from old jewelry and other objects makes up around 25% of the gold industry.

Gold mining: how does it work?

Did you know? There's more than just one way to extract gold. This is not to mention tomorrow's technological advances that will make things even more efficient - and maybe even unlock resources we didn't know existed.

Here are the 3 most common techniques:

  • The open-pit method: it involves removing the surface soil to get to the gold-bearing rocks.
  • Underground mining: tunnels and shafts are dug to reach gold deposits.
  • Dredging: this method involves using boats that have dredges to remove sediments from river and lake surfaces.

What is gold refining?

Gold melted into iron forms for refinement

One step is essential to turning gold nuggets into bars and coins: refining! It's a vague term for a simple concept: removing impurities from gold through melting.

Gold coming from the mine isn’t pure, as it’s often mixed with dirt, rocks, and other minerals that can be found in a gold-bearing ore: sulphur, copper, zinc, etc.

Pure gold meets global standards

After refining, you get pure gold at 99%, which is a must to make investment-grade gold bars and coins.

💡A quick reminder

An investment bar should be made of pure gold: its purity must be equal to or greater than 995 thousandths.

Read our SPOTLIGHT for more info on gold purity and what you should pay attention to when buying gold bars and coins.

Cast and minted gold bars: what’s the difference?

PAMP Suisse gold cast bar and Lady Fortuna minted gold bar on a light blue background
Gold cast bar and Lady Fortuna minted bar produced by MKS PAMP.

Bars usually come in two types: cast and minted.

  • Gold cast bars are made by melting gold and pouring it into molds to cool and solidify. Casting/unmolding can cause roughness on the surface of the bar, giving them a more "handmade" look.
  • Minted bars, on the other hand, are cut from a long strip of gold and shaped with a cold press, which gives them a more sophisticated look.

💡Lady Fortuna, the world-famous gold bar

The Lady Fortuna range, produced by MKS PAMP, is among the world's most famous minted bars.

This now-legendary bullion design, created in 1979, was the first ever to decorate a precious metal bar.

Investment gold: from mines to accredited refiners

Before they end up in your pocket or, more precisely, a secure vault, gold bars, and coins are first distributed to approved gold resellers who follow strict security rules.

Gold and precious metals refiners: who approves them?

Gold refiners can be accredited either by the government or by professional organizations and associations, with the rules varying from country to country.

Among the globally recognized professional associations is the London Bullion Market Association, also known as LBMA. This organization brings together the largest players in the precious metals industry.

💡About LBMA

The London Bullion Market Association plays several roles:

  • Accrediting gold and silver refiners
  • Maintaining the Good Delivery List*
  • Publishing precious metals market data

*Good Delivery List: LBMA's requirements for a Good Delivery listed bar (of approximately 400 troy ounces for gold and 1,000 troy ounces for silver) cover the following:

  • Fine ounce weight
  • Purity
  • Physical appearance (including markings and surface quality).

Saving in gold with GOLD AVENUE

Lady Fortuna gold bar, 1 kg PAMP Suisse gold bar, 50 g PAMP Suisse gold bar, and Canadian Maple Leaf gold coin

We're the official online reseller of the MKS PAMP GROUP, the leader in the precious metals sector.

We select the highest quality gold products on the market, with Swiss-made PAMP bars coming directly from the MKS PAMP refinery. All PAMP products sold on GOLD AVENUE are LBMA-certified.

As one of the leading gold resellers in Europe, we can help you diversify your savings and investment portfolio with the best gold products on the market:

So, are you ready to dive in? If you want to know more, we're here to give you all the information you need about investment and savings in general and gold savings in particular.

Check out our blog for more insights. 📚


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