Precious metals, such as gold, silver and platinum, are among the most valuable commodities worldwide. The value of the materials is determined by their relative scarcity. In 2020, an estimated 380 metric tons of gold were produced in China, the world's largest producer of the metal. This production output was stable compared to 2019 figures, despite a slump in metal demand due to the Covid-19 healthy crisis. That same year, China was estimated to have around 2,000 metric tons of mine reserves of gold. It was dwarfed by Australia’s gold reserves, which reached some 10,000 metric tons.
Covid-19 impact on market evolution
Gold demand worldwide was the highest in the investment sector, which overtook the jewelry industry in 2020 in part because investors considered gold to be a reliable investment during the health crisis. By comparison, jewelry also ranked second in global platinum demand, making up close to 23 percent of the market in 2020. The autocatalyst sector was the leading market for platinum and palladium use that same year. The major producing countries for precious metals include Russia, the United States, Canada, South Africa and China. With a production volume of around 5.91 million ounces, Colorado-based Newmont Corporation was the leading gold mining company worldwide in 2020. In the same year, Mexico's Fresnillo topped the list of silver producers, while Anglo American was ranked as the global leading platinum producing company in 2019. While economic uncertainty impacted the production volume of Anglo American, its 2020 revenue rose to almost 8.5 million U.S. dollars, a revenue increase also reflected in Newmont Corporation.
Price increase driven by a slump in demand
Precious metal prices increased due in part to the economic downturn and disruption in demand generated by the pandemic. Political uncertainty in the United States and trade tensions with China particularly contributed to a hike up of the annual average gold price, which reached just under 1,770 U.S. dollars per troy ounce in 2020. This was a growth of over 27 percent 2019 prices. This price increase was reflected in the average price of major gold producers. World leading Newmont Corporation’s average realized gold price for 2020 reached 1,775 U.S. dollars per ounce, close to the global average. Projections expect this upward trend in gold prices to last until 2022. This market development impacted all precious metals. Average global palladium prices went from 1,519 U.S. dollars per troy ounce in 2019 to 2,179 U.S. dollars in 2020.
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