It is melted, recast and beaten into everything from atom-thin sheets to wire thread. Resistant to rust and corrosion, gold is the world’s most reliable and durable electrical conductor, essential for computer electronics and satellite communications technologies.
While most gold is used for investment and in jewellery, the technology-related uses - electronics, dentistry, medicine, and nanotechnology – are expanding. Currently technology accounts for 12% of global gold demand, or approximately 453 tonnes a year. Of this figure, 70% is used in electronics. This is, of course, where much of the market growth in this area springs from.
For an idea of scale, a mobile phone contains on average 50 milligrams of gold. With an estimated 7 billion mobile phones worldwide, that adds up to 350 tonnes of gold contained in these devices. It would take New Zealand 30 years to produce that much gold.
Because it does not react with the human body, gold is finding new uses as a diagnostic tool in medicine (e.g., pregnancy testing, salmonella detection, HIV testing), in new treatments for cancer, and new methods of fighting microbial infection.
Emerging uses for gold nano-particles include: catalysts in industrial processes; pollution reduction in air and water; in fuel cells and lithium-air batteries; and in solar cells.
Gold has come a long way since it was first smelted in Ancient Egypt 5600 years ago. Find out more about gold today