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11 Stunning Visualizations of Gold Show Its Value and Rarity

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The Money Project is an ongoing collaboration between Visual Capitalist and Texas Precious Metals that seeks to use intuitive visualizations to explore the origins, nature, and use of money.

Since Ancient times, gold has served a very unique function in society.

Gold is extremely rare, impossible to create out of “thin air”, easily identifiable, malleable, and it does not tarnish. By nature of these properties, gold has been highly valued throughout history for every tiny ounce of weight. That’s why it’s been used by people for centuries as a monetary metal, a symbol of wealth, and a store of value.

Visualizing Gold’s Value and Rarity

With all that value coming from such a small package, sometimes it is hard to put gold’s immense worth into context.

The following 11 images help to capture this about gold, putting things into better perspective.

1. The U.S. median income, as a gold cube, easily fits in the palm of your hand.

U.S. Median Income as a Gold Cube

2. A gold cube worth $1 million, has sides that are 2/3 the length of a typical banknote.

One Million Dollars as a Gold Cube

3. All gold used for electrical connections in the Columbia Space Shuttle would be worth $1.6 million today.

All the Gold in the Columbia Space Shuttle in a Cube

4. Trump’s entire fortune of $3.7 billion as a gold cube would be shorter than Trump himself.

Donald Trump's fortune in a Gold Cube

5. As a gold cube, the entire value of the Bitcoin market would fit in a hallway.

The Bitcoin Market's Value as a Gold Cube

6. The fortune of the richest man on Earth, Bill Gates, would take up a single traffic lane.

Bill Gates' Wealth as a Gold Cube

7. The world’s entire annual production of gold is just a 5.5m sided (18 ft) cube.

Annual Gold Production a Gold Cube

8. Take the 147.3 million oz of gold out of Fort Knox, and it’s only slightly bigger.

All the Gold in Fort Knox Visualized as a Cube

9. All gold held by the Central Banks pales in comparison to the Brandenburg Gate.

The World's Central Banks Holdings as a Gold Cube

10. All gold mined in human history is dwarfed by the Statue of Liberty.

All Gold Mined in Human History Visualized as a Cube

11. To pay off $63 trillion of global sovereign debt, you’d need a gold cube the size of a building.

All Global Debt Visualized as a Gold Cube

Liked our visualizations of gold cubes? Check out this motion graphic video that shows how much money has been created by humans.

The Money Project is an ongoing collaboration between Visual Capitalist and Texas Precious Metals that seeks to use intuitive visualizations to explore the origins, nature, and use of money.

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Mining

How to Avoid Common Mistakes With Mining Stocks (Part 3: Jurisdiction)

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Mining Jurisdictions

“Location, location, location…”

This famous real estate adage also matters in mining. After all, it’s an industry that is all about the geology—but beyond the physical aspects and the location of a mineral deposit, there are also social and environmental factors that create a mining jurisdiction.

Common Mistakes With Jurisdiction

We’ve partnered with Eclipse Gold Mining on an infographic series to show you how to avoid common mistakes when evaluating and investing in mining exploration stocks.

Part 3 of the series focuses on six signals investors can use to gauge a company’s preparedness for the jurisdictions they operate in.

jurisdictions

View the two other parts of this series so far, covering mistakes made in choosing the team as well as those made with a company’s business plan.

#1: Geological Potential: Methodical Prospecting or Wild Goose Chase?

It all starts with a great drill result, but even these can be “one-off” anomalies.

Mineral exploration is a methodical process of drawing a subsurface picture with the tip of a drill bit. A mineral discovery is the cumulative effort of years of research and drilling.

The key to reducing this geological risk is to find a setting that has shown previous potential and committing to it. Typically, a region is known to have hosted other great discoveries or shares a geology similar to other mining districts.

Signs of Methodical Prospecting:

  • Lots of geological indicators
  • Potential for further discovery
  • Sound science

#2: Legal Environment: Well-Paved Path or Minotaur’s Maze?

Now that you have identified a region with the prospective geology you think could host a discovery, a company will have to secure the permits to explore and operate any further.

However, a management team that cannot navigate a country’s bureaucracy will face delays and obstacles, costing investors both time and money.

Without clear laws and competent management, a mining company’s best laid plans become lost in a maze with legal monsters around every legal corner.

Signs of a Well-Paved Highway:

  • Existing laws encourage mining investment
  • Relatively low bureaucracy
  • Well-established permitting process
  • Legacy of mining contributing to economy

#3: Politics: Professional Politics or Banana Republics?

A good legal framework is often the outcome of politics and stable governance—however so is a difficult legal framework.

The political stability of a nation can turn on one election and so can the prospects for developing a mine. An anti-mining leader can halt a mining project, or a pro-mining leader can usher forward one.

A positive national viewpoint on mining may be enough to lure investment dollars, but local politics may determine the success of a mining company.

Signs of Professional Politics:

  • Positive history with mining companies
  • Politically stable jurisdiction
  • Rule of law respected
  • Changes in government have little effect on the mining industry

#4: Infrastructure & Labor: Modern or Medieval

Sometimes it is the discovery of valuable minerals that spurs national development, but this can also happen the other way around, in which development can encourage mineral discovery.

A mining company looking to build a new mine in a country with a tradition of mining will have an easier time. Access or lack thereof to modern machinery and trained employees will determine how much money will be needed.

That said, if a company is looking to develop a mining project in a new mining region, they must be ready to help create the skills and infrastructure it needs to mine.

Signs of a Modern Jurisdiction:

  • Developed roads to access and support operations
  • Trained labor for staffing and development
  • Well-established grid lines and back-up power systems

#5: Community: Fostering Friendship or Sowing Enemies

Mining operations have a significant impact on the local community. Good companies look to make mutually beneficial partnerships of equals with local communities.

Ignoring or failing to respect the local community will jeopardize a mining project at every stage of its mine life. A local community that does not want mining to occur will oppose even the best laid plans.

Signs of a Friendly Relations:

  • Operations bring community together
  • Local history shows support for mining
  • Understanding of local concerns and regional variety
  • Company contributes to economic growth and health of the community

#6: Environment: Clean Campsite or One Night Party

There is no way around it: mining impacts the environment and local ecosystems. But, mining operations are a blip on the radar when it comes to Earth’s timeline.

Mine sites can again become productive ecosystems, if a company has the capacity and plan to mitigate mining’s impacts at every stage of the life of a mine—even beyond the life of a mine.

Signs of a Clean Campsite:

  • Development plan mitigates environmental damage
  • Well-planned closure and remediation
  • Understand how communities use their environment

Bringing it together: ESG Investing

These six points outlined above point towards a more complete picture of the impacts of a mining project. Currently, this falls under what is labeled as Environmental, Social and Governance “ESG” standards.

Mining companies are the forefront of a big push to adopt these types of considerations into their business, because they directly affect natural and human environments.

ESG is no longer green wash, especially for the mining industry. Companies that understand and apply these concepts in their business will have better outcomes in the jurisdictions they operate within, hopefully offering investors a more successful venture.

Geology does not change on the human time scale, but bad management can quickly lose a good project and investor’s money if they do not pay attention to the other attributes of a jurisdiction.

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Mining

Silver Bulls: Visualizing the Price of Silver

Silver has always proved its value throughout history. From ancient coins to jewelry, silver retains its value and goes through tough times.

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Silver Bulls: Visualizing the Price of Silver

Silver has always shown its value throughout history. From ancient coins to its use as a global currency during the Age of Discovery, silver has circulated the world to become an important financial asset. Its value continues to shine in the era of the modern finance industry.

Today’s infographic comes to us from New Pacific Metals and it takes a look at the bull markets in silver prices and the future of silver.

Silver Bulls: 1967 to Today

The late 1960s marked the beginning of the end for silver as currency, but also the start of its use in protecting and securing wealth.

In the United States, silver certificates were issued by the Treasury until late 1963, when the $1 Federal Reserve Note was released into circulation. After this, the remaining silver certificates were still redeemable for silver, but this practice ended in 1968.

Since then, silver has had several bull markets in which prices have increased—or as some silver aficionados may argue, the relative value of fiat currency has decreased.

 Percentage GainPrice Range (USD)*Duration
Silver Bull #1 (1967-68)49%$12.50 - $18.5813 months
Silver Bull #2 (1971-74)274%$8.45 - $31.5927 months
Silver Bull #3 (1976-80)544%$18.40 - $118.5048 months
Silver Bull #4 (1986-87)40%$12.47 - $17.4812 months
Silver Bull #5 (1993-95)39%$6.47 - $9.0027 months
Silver Bull #6 (2001-11)827%$6.01 - $55.69113 months
Silver Bull #7 (2015-Present?)90%$15.04 - $28.5356 months

Source: MacroTrends
*Inflation-adjusted data using CPI from BLS, LBMA Monthly prices

That said, not all silver bull markets are the same, nor do they necessarily coincide with bull markets in the price of gold.

Performance: Gold vs. Silver

Despite being often referred to as “poor man’s gold”, silver has actually outperformed gold in five of the six previous bull markets for gold and silver.

There are two ways to look at how silver prices performed during these timeframes:

  1. We can compare silver price performance to corresponding peaks and troughs of the gold price
  2. We can also look at silver prices based on its own peaks and troughs, irrespective of gold

Often, gold prices move first with silver prices quickly following—but then, silver can outperform gold on its own timeline.

 Gold PerformanceSilver Performance Silver Performance
Based on gold's peaks and troughsBased on silver's peaks and troughs
Silver Bull #140%-17%100%
Silver Bull #2455%144%432%
Silver Bull #3715%912%977%
Silver Bull #478%27%94%
Silver Bull #528%63%75%
Silver Bull #6:636%904%45%

Source: CPM Group (Nominal data)

More recently, prices of silver have been on an upward trend since 2015 and some would say we are in a new bull market for the precious metal. For however longer, it is anyone’s guess.

The Future of Silver?

While the future price direction of silver is difficult to predict, this doesn’t diminish the increasing importance of silver’s role as a metal in an electrified future.

As you can see in the demand breakdown below, silver is not only precious—it is useful:

Silver Demand (2019)Millions of Ounces
Industrial510.9
...of which Photovoltaics98.7
Photography33.7
Jewelry201.3
Silverware59.8
Net Physical Investment186.1
Total Demand991.8

Source: Silver Institute

While silver’s uses and applications continue to grow, silver remains a safe haven investment from political uncertainty and economic distress—all while being a cheaper and better alternative to gold.

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