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Visualizing the Rhine River’s Shrinking Water Levels

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Visualizing the Rhine River Water Levels Over the Last 20 Years

Water levels on the Rhine river in Germany continue to sink amid severe drought, forcing companies to seek alternatives for the freight they send up and down Europe’s second-largest river.

This graphic uses data from the German Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration (WSV) compiled by Olivier Lejeune to show 20 years of water levels at one notorious shallow point at Kaub, between Mainz and Koblenz.

How Important is the Rhine?

Around 195 million tons of cargo are shipped on German rivers each year—mostly on the Rhine.

Flowing from the Swiss Alps to the North Sea, the Rhine links German and Swiss industries with the Dutch city of Rotterdam, Europe’s biggest port. Its role in the continent’s economy traces back to the Roman Empire and early medieval trade.

The Rhine river is an important shipping route for many products like coal, gasoline, heating oil, chemicals, car parts, food, and thousands of other goods. However, when water levels drop, cargo vessels need to sail with a reduced load, so they don’t run aground.

Rhine Water Levels at Kaub

Date💧 Lowest water level (cm)
9/20/2002153
9/28/200335
12/17/200494
12/3/200558
2/15/200658
11/7/200789
10/16/2008115
10/5/2009 55
11/6/2010122
11/30/201148
8/21/2012 118
9/7/2013113
6/25/2014111
11/14/201554
12/31/2016122
1/9/201751
10/22/2018 25
9/23/201999
9/23/202078
11/1/202172
8/15/202232

In 2018, the Rhine waterway was shut for goods transport for a total of 132 days due to severe drought.

Due to an unusually hot and dry summer in Europe, the low water levels are emerging earlier than usual, with the lowest water levels typically recorded in September or October. Water levels at the chokepoint of Kaub, near Frankfurt, fell to 32 cm in depth on Monday, August 15, 2022.

The European Space Agency captured part of the Rhine River near Cologne – showing the stark difference between August 2021 and August 2022.

rhine river divided ok

The Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission captured part of the Rhine River near Cologne—showing the stark difference between August 2021 and August 2022.

The low water levels are adding to Europe’s energy crisis, sparked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Barge rates to ship fuel from Rotterdam to Basel, Switzerland, are near an all-time high. The closure of the Rhine could disrupt 400,000 barrels a day of oil-product trade.

The Impact of Climate Change

Effects of climate change are modifying the discharge pattern of the Rhine and its tributaries, according to the International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine.

Periods with floods or low flow are expected to become more frequent and more distinct. Floods may be higher and last longer. In addition to navigation issues, the low flow may affect water supply and the quality of groundwater.

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Visualizing Global Gold Production in 2023

Gold production in 2023 was led by China, Australia, and Russia, with each outputting over 300 tonnes.

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Graphic breaking down global gold production in 2023

Visualizing Global Gold Production in 2023

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Over 3,000 tonnes of gold were produced globally in 2023.

In this graphic, we list the world’s leading countries in terms of gold production. These figures come from the latest USGS publication on gold statistics (published January 2024).

China, Australia, and Russia Produced the Most Gold in 2023

China was the top producer in 2023, responsible for over 12% of total global production, followed by Australia and Russia.

CountryRegion2023E Production (tonnes)
🇨🇳 ChinaAsia370
🇦🇺 AustraliaOceania310
🇷🇺 RussiaEurope310
🇨🇦 CanadaNorth America200
🇺🇸 United StatesNorth America170
🇰🇿 KazakhstanAsia130
🇲🇽 MexicoNorth America120
🇮🇩 IndonesiaAsia110
🇿🇦 South AfricaAfrica100
🇺🇿 UzbekistanAsia100
🇬🇭 GhanaAfrica90
🇵🇪 PeruSouth America90
🇧🇷 BrazilSouth America60
🇧🇫 Burkina FasoAfrica60
🇲🇱 MaliAfrica60
🇹🇿 TanzaniaAfrica60
🌍 Rest of World-700

Gold mines in China are primarily concentrated in eastern provinces such as Shandong, Henan, Fujian, and Liaoning. As of January 2024, China’s gold mine reserves stand at an estimated 3,000 tonnes, representing around 5% of the global total of 59,000 tonnes.

In addition to being the top producer, China emerged as the largest buyer of the yellow metal for the year. In fact, the country’s central bank alone bought 225 tonnes of gold in 2023, according the World Gold Council.

Estimated Global Gold Consumption

Most of the gold produced in 2023 was used in jewelry production, while another significant portion was sold as a store of value, such as in gold bars or coins.

  • Jewelry: 46%
  • Central Banks and Institutions: 23%
  • Physical Bars: 16%
  • Official Coins, Medals, and Imitation Coins: 9%
  • Electrical and Electronics: 5%
  • Other: 1%

According to Fitch Solutions, over the medium term (2023-2032), global gold mine production is expected to grow 15%, as high prices encourage investment and output.

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Charted: The Value Gap Between the Gold Price and Gold Miners

While gold prices hit all-time highs, gold mining stocks have lagged far behind.

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Line chart comparing gold price and gold mining stocks since 2000.

Gold Price vs. Gold Mining Stocks

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on Apple or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Although the price of gold has reached new record highs in 2024, gold miners are still far from their 2011 peaks.

In this graphic, we illustrate the evolution of gold prices since 2000 compared to the NYSE Arca Gold BUGS Index (HUI), which consists of the largest and most widely held public gold production companies. The data was compiled by Incrementum AG.

Mining Stocks Lag Far Behind

In April 2024, gold reached a new record high as Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell signaled policymakers may delay interest rate cuts until clearer signs of declining inflation materialize.

Additionally, with elections occurring in more than 60 countries in 2024 and ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, central banks are continuing to buy gold to strengthen their reserves, creating momentum for the metal.

Traditionally known as a hedge against inflation and a safe haven during times of political and economic uncertainty, gold has climbed over 11% so far this year.

According to Business Insider, gold miners experienced their best performance in a year in March 2024. During that month, the gold mining sector outperformed all other U.S. industries, surpassing even the performance of semiconductor stocks.

Still, physical gold has outperformed shares of gold-mining companies over the past three years by one of the largest margins in decades.

YearGold PriceNYSE Arca Gold BUGS Index (HUI)
2023$2,062.92$243.31
2022$1,824.32$229.75
2021$1,828.60$258.87
2020$1,895.10$299.64
2019$1,523.00$241.94
2018$1,281.65$160.58
2017$1,296.50$192.31
2016$1,151.70$182.31
2015$1,060.20$111.18
2014$1,199.25$164.03
2013$1,201.50$197.70
2012$1,664.00$444.22
2011$1,574.50$498.73
2010$1,410.25$573.32
2009$1,104.00$429.91
2008$865.00$302.41
2007$836.50$409.37
2006$635.70$338.24
2005$513.00$276.90
2004$438.00$215.33
2003$417.25$242.93
2002$342.75$145.12
2001$276.50$65.20
2000$272.65$40.97

Among the largest companies on the NYSE Arca Gold BUGS Index, Colorado-based Newmont has experienced a 24% drop in its share price over the past year. Similarly, Canadian Barrick Gold also saw a decline of 6.5% over the past 12 months.

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