If there was one subject I wish I had studied more about, it is history.
The use of gold to rapidly develop wilderness is a fascinating subject. The California gold rush, the Yukon gold rush, the Spanish rush to latinize America. It only takes about 5% of people to rush into a place (such as Borneo) looking for shiny yellow metal, and next thing there are trails and roads and consumer access to primate 'bushmeat'.
The price of gold is justified by how much work it took to find / get / extract it, and by widespread demand.