Every year, according to the World Gold Council, as much as 3000 tonnes of gold are pulled from the earth. The Council estimates that 190 400 tonnes of gold have been mined throughout modern history, with most of it (about two-thirds) extracted since the 1950s.
Despite how much has already been mined — nearly all of which exists in above-ground stores because gold is virtually indestructible and easily recyclable — demand for newly mined gold remains strong. The jewellery sector is the largest industrial user of it, consuming nearly half of all newly mined gold annually. The tech sector uses about 8% annually, but it is the finance sector and governments that take up most of the rest.
In many cultures, gold is a symbol of wealth, luxury and love, whether in the form of a wedding band, a candelabra, ingots or an iPhone. But like so much that we consume, the production process behind gold is rife with negative social, environmental and economic impacts. Far from the exception, injustice, destruction and inequity are systemic traits of this industry.