Gold is perhaps the most valued of all mined minerals. Its versatility and rarity almost ensures investing in it is a sure bet, unless you are a gold miner.
British Columbia was built in part on its gold rushes, which attracted tens of thousands of prospectors in the hopes of striking it rich. Most did not.
Today, the quest for gold remains a gamble. It may be hard to imagine how mining a material worth just over $1200 USD an ounce could be a risk, but it all comes down to how much gold is in the ground.
It is the rarity of gold that gives it both its value to us, and its risk to miners. Modern gold mines might have as little as 0.03 grams of gold per tonne of rock. That is so low that the naked eye cannot see the gold in the rock.
How little is it? If you visit the Museum, you can’t miss seeing the Superhaul truck. This massive vehicle was capable of carrying 235 tonnes of rock. If our truck was carrying ore containing 0.03 grams of gold per tonne, one load would contain enough gold to produce one seven gram gold ring.
Of course, many mines have more than 0.03 grams of gold per tonne of rock. A Superhaul truckload of ore from the Golden Bear Mine in northern British Columbia contained, on average, enough gold to produce 34 seven gram gold rings, while ore from the richest deposits can yield up to enough gold for 170 seven gram rings (that’s almost $50,000 worth of gold at $1200/ounce).
However, when the real costs of gold mining are added up, it is estimated that it costs up to $1400 USD per ounce to mine gold. Given how the price of gold on the open market fluctuates, it is no surprise mining for gold is anything but a guaranteed investment.