The United States currently ranks #3 in the world for gold production, behind China and Australia. In 2012, an estimated 230 metric tons of gold was produced, with most production coming from the western half of the country.
Gold was first discovered in the United States at the site of the Reed Gold Mine
in North Carolina in 1799. This initial discovery was actually a part of the Carolina Slate Belt that can be found across many of the states in the southeast, including parts of North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia. During the early decades of the 1800ís, gold production in the southeast increased, and mining continued to grow as a significant part of the United States economy.
The gold discovery that really garnered attention was the discovery of gold at Sutterís Mill in California in 1848. Over the coming years, the expanse of the California goldfields became apparent, and thousands of men were attracted to the area to search for the yellow metal. Many of these were prospectors who came from the established goldfields of the east coast, but other miners traveled from around the globe in search of wealth. Within a few years, additional gold discoveries were made throughout the mountainous western United States. Just to the north in Oregon, rich placer deposits were quickly found, along with gold in nearby Nevada
, Arizona, and Colorado
. Gold was eventually discovered in Alaska, which is considered to be home to the last great American Gold Rush.
Gold mining has changed significantly since the early discoveries were worked over 150 years ago. Much of the gold found during that time was by individual prospectors working placer deposits. The old methods of dredging and hydraulic mining that worked many of the placer and bench deposits produced significant amounts of gold, but modern mining methods used by commercial mining companies have resulted in even larger gold production in recent years.
Nevada currently produces more gold than any other state in the United States. Although it was always known to have rich gold and silver resources, it was the discovery of low-grade ore known as the Carlin Trend deposits in Nevada that increased output over the past few decades. Located in the northeastern part of the state, the relatively recent discovery represents one of the richest gold deposits in the world.
Other significant gold producing states include Alaska, Oregon, Idaho, Arizona, California, Montana, and Colorado. Nearly all of the states in the United States produce at least some gold, but from a commercially standpoint only a handful have rich enough deposits to warrant exploration by mining companies.
Although still rich with mineral wealth, the United States has a very burdensome regulatory process when compared to many other countries around the world. In many cases this makes it less attractive for investment from potential mining companies.Hard Rock Mining vs. Placer Mining