This information has not been updated since 2010 and is provided for general reference purposes. For more detailed information and for the latest data, please see the Australia’s Identified Mineral Resources gold chapter .
Australia has substantial gold resources which are located in all States and the Northern Territory but predominantly in Western Australia, South Australia and New South Wales. Australia is the world’s second largest producer of gold after China. Approximately two-thirds of all production comes from mines in Western Australia. Gold is one of Australia’s top 10 commodity exports and is worth about $14 billion per year.
Geoscience Australia provides a range of geoscience data and information to encourage and support the discovery of new gold resources in Australia.
Gold has long been a medium of exchange and investment and is widely used to produce coins. Governments of many countries include holdings of gold as part of their monetary reserves and financial institutions and individuals also use gold as a store of wealth. The main uses of gold are jewellery, dentistry and for artistic purposes. Gold’s electrical conductivity, malleability and ductility make it a preferred metal in many applications including electronic and computer circuitry, radar equipment and satellites. For example it is in the mechanism and circuitry of air bags in motor vehicles. Further information about gold distribution and use are given in the Australian Mines Atlas Gold Fact Sheet .
Gold Production and Exports
Gold has been produced in Australia since the first discovery near Orange in New South Wales in 1851. Australian mines currently produce just under 230 tonnes of gold a year, which is almost 10 per cent of world gold production. Australia exports about 360 tonne of gold in ores and concentrates and as refined metal. These exports include shipments of gold of non-Australian origin which has been refined in Australia. The major market for Australia’s gold exports is India with significant amounts also exported to the United Kingdom. Information on Australia’s mineral production and exports is given in Australia Mineral Statistics and Australian Commodities which are produced quarterly by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) .
Leading producers of gold include Western Australia’s Super Pit at Kalgoorlie, Telfer in the Pilbara region, the St Ives, Agnew, Boddington and Sunrise Dam operations in Yilgarn Craton as well as the Cadia-Ridgeway operation in New South Wales and the Tanami operations in the Northern Territory. Further information is available from the Australian Mines Atlas .
Australia is estimated to have about 11 per cent of the world’s Economic Demonstrated Resources (EDR) of gold, the second largest after Chile and ahead of Russia, the USA and Indonesia. Australia’s national inventory of gold resources is updated annually in Australia’s Identified Mineral Resources.
Western Australia has just over 40 per cent of Australia’s gold EDR distributed across a large number of deposits. South Australia and New South Wales have substantial quantities of gold EDR. Geoscience Australia produces maps of Australia’s mines, mineral deposits, and endowment (including gold).
Gold Exploration and Discovery
Gold attracts Australia’s second largest exploration expenditure with Western Australia accounting for more than half the annual gold exploration expenditure. The remainder is spread between all other States and the Northern Territory. Continued interest in gold exploration is attributed to the country’s potential to host significant deposits and because the high price of gold has been sustained for a number of years.
Recent gold discoveries include the Tropicana deposit in Western Australia, which was discovered in 2005, the Carrapteena copper-gold deposit in South Australia, also discovered in 2005 and the McPhillamys deposit in New South Wales discovered in 2006.