Did you know that all the gold ever mined weighed some 193,000 tonnes and could be fit into a cube 22 metres x 22 metres x 22 metres? I thought it would have been more. Much of this previously mined gold is still in circulation today.

This precious metal has been highly prized for thousands of years not just for jewelry but for its monetary value and other uses. The ingots on the left are estimated at USD3.5 million for this month - gold prices fluctuate.

Rather amazingly, 40% of all the gold mined in history has come in just the last 120 years and from one location - the Witwatersrand Basin in South Africa. Geologists suspect that the gold washed down from the surrounding mountains. Various theories on how the gold formed in the mountains are still hotly debated today.

New research reported in the science magazine, New Scientist, has shown that gold may not take millions of years to form as previously thought. Instead, it might take just take a single lifetime or even mere days.

Lihir Island to the north-east of Papua New Guinea is the site of the world's largest gold mines. The gold deposit/mine arose years after the volcanic island erupted and collapsed. Geologists have found that small amounts of magmatic fluid containing gold rise from the magma chamber below ground to augment the gold mine from beneath. This leads to the possibility of using artifical gold traps in a hydrothermal power station if it were economically feasible to do so. Builidng traps that can withstand the high pressures involved is expensive. With the high cost of gold, it may well be worthwhile in the future.

Gold is hard to find so this is very encouraging news for those of us who are fond of this precious metal.


"Instant Gold" by Phil McKenna in New Scientist : 20 January 2007.

Lihir Gold mine