The gold industry generated over $210bn for the global economy in 2012, roughly equivalent to the gross domestic product (GDP) of the Republic of Ireland, Czech Republic or Beijing, according to a new study by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

The study was commissioned by the World Gold Council (WGC) to determine the direct economic impact of gold.

PwC estimates that large-scale gold mining alone made an economic contribution of over $78.4bn to the economies of the top 15 mining countries in 2012.

According to the study, gold is a major source of exports and foreign exchange earnings.

In 2012, gold provided 36% of all Tanzanian exports and 26% of the exports of Ghana and Papua New Guinea.

The recycling of gold made up 36% of global supply in 2012 and the economic impact of global gold recycling is estimated to be $25bn.

PwC said that demand for gold, including investment purchases of small bars and coins, gold jewellery fabrication and consumption, generated $110bn across the top 13 gold-consuming countries.

World Gold Council director of gold for development Terry Heymann said from mining and refining, to fabrication and consumer demand, ‘it is clear that gold makes a positive contribution to economic growth along the entire value chain’.

"In particular, consumer demand for physical gold products from the 13 largest gold consuming countries directly generated very substantial economic value; around $110bn in 2012," Heymann said.

"These new findings pave the way for further research examining the total economic contribution gold makes, which would cover both the direct, as well as the indirect, impacts on the economy such as secondary employment, additional taxation and the funding of third party support services."

PwC UK mining leader Jason Burkitt said, "With the global mining sector facing challenging times and increasing costs, transparency is vital – and this research is important as it examines the economic value generated by gold and where that value is created."