How much precious metals exists on Earth and how much has been mined?

How much precious metals exists on Earth and how much has been mined?

11th May 2018


Here, we are only looking at the amount of these metals available in the Earth’s crust today. We are unlikely to gather industrially or commercially useful amounts of material from the much deeper mantle anytime soon, let alone from the molten core itself, so the large volumes of these metals in those regions can be disregarded.

The rarity of a metal is best conveyed as its ‘mass fraction’, or how many kg can be anticipated to be found per billion kg of crust material. Indeed, they are not evenly distributed or mining would be impossible, but the number is still suitable.



4 parts per billion


75 parts per billion


5 parts per billion


1.5 parts per billion

Other Platinum group metals

1 part per billion or less


Now, as the earth’s crust is approximated to mass around 2.6 * 1022 kg, it means that there is around 400 billion kg of gold throughout the entire crust. Most of which, will never really be reachable, but there really is a lot out there.

So how much gold, in total, has been mined so far?

Gold is frequently measured in troy ounces, meaning that 32.15 ounces equals one kg. That means that the entire world production of gold is roughly 1.5 million kg per year, which would form a cube around 4.3 metres on each side.

Indeed, gold has been mined for thousands of years, and records were not always kept so accurately as they are now. Yet, experts estimate that some 10 billion troy ounces, or just over 311 million kg, of gold have been produced in the history of humanity. That would be a cube roughly 25 metres on each side.

The Seaswise Giant, which was decommissioned in 2010, was the largest ship ever built and had a cargo capacity of 657 million kg. Throughout all of history, it could hold twice the amount of gold that has ever been produced by the human race.

How much silver has been mined, and how much is left?

In total, there is roughly 7.5 trillion kg of silver available throughout earth’s crust.

It is estimated, that some 1.4 billion kg of silver have been mined throughout human history. Yet, silver corrodes, and just under half of that silver no longer exists as a metal. To put that into perspective, of what has been mined, only 777 million kg still exists.


*At the time of publication this information is correct. Please note we are unable to provide financial advice, so we recommend that you speak with a financial advisor regarding your options. 



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