Estimates of found gold differ widely. One of the world's richest investors suggests the total amount could fit into a cube with sides of just 20m (67ft). This seems to be a small amount.
The annual gold survey from Thomson Reuters GFMS is 171,300 tones. However, other people don't agree with this figure. Estimates range from 155,244 tones, marginally less than the GFMS figure, to about 16 times that amount.
The reason the estimates don't match concerns the past. Gold has been mined for 6,000 years. The first gold coins were minted in about 550 BC under King Croesus of Lydia, a province in modern-day Turkey, and quickly became accepted payment for merchants and mercenary soldiers around the Mediterranean. Up until 1492, the year Columbus sailed to America; GFMS estimates that 12,780 tones had been extracted.
Today, not even China is open about how much gold is mined. Illegal mining is taking place in Columbia and other countries as well. The US Geological Survey estimates, there are more than 52,000 tones of minable gold still in the ground and more is likely to be discovered.
Up to now, gold has never gone away. It has always been recycled. All the gold mined throughout history is still in existence in the above-ground stock. That means that if you have a gold watch, some of the gold could have been mined by the Romans 2,000 years ago.
The British Geological Survey states that about 12% of current world gold production finds its way to the technology industry, where it is often used in such small quantities, in each individual product, that it may no longer be economical to recycle it.
In short, we are munching through gold for the first time.