LAWRIE WILLIAMS: Russia adds another 9.33 tonnes to its gold reserves in February

The Russian central bank continued to add to its gold reserves in February, but at a slower rate than in January or in November last year, it is too early to say whether the fall in the reported increase is significant given that the amount taken in is still greater than in three individual months last year.  In the event, the Russian central bank reported that it had added 300,000 ounces of gold during February, bringing its total holding to around 1,654 tonnes – still keeping it in sixth place among national gold holders, behind China, which has reported gold reserves of 1,842.6 tonnes, but is still closing the gap on its neighbour.  We speculated earlier this month that Russian gold reserves could even rise to match, or exceed, China’s officially reported gold reserve figure this year, although that was based on a continuation on a monthly basis of Russian reserve increases of 31.1 tonnes, as recorded in January – see:  Russia’s gold reserves could overtake China’s this year.  Given that China currently does not appear to be adding to its gold reserves – at least according to its official announcements – Russian reserves are still on the way to exceeding those of China assuming the latter’s buying hiatus continues. (It has added no gold to its reported reserves since October last year)

See below the world’s biggest gold holding nations as reported to the IMF.  *Note Russia’s figure updated to take account of the latest central bank announcement of yesterday.

Table:  World’s Top 10 National gold holders

   

Tonnes

% of reserves

1

United States

8,133.5

74.6%

2

Germany

3,377.9

68.8%

3

Italy

2,451.8

67.8%

4

France

2,435.8

63.8%

5

China

1,842.6

2.3%

6

Russia*

1,654.4

16.4%

7

Switzerland

1,040.0

6.0%

8

Japan

765.2

2.4%

9

Netherlands

612.5

63.9%

10

India

557.8

6.0%

As can be seen from the above table, Russia now only lags China by some 188 tonnes in terms of its gold reserves.  Last year Russia added just over 200 tonnes to its reserves and a continuation at this kind of rate – if China continues its halt of official gold buying – would mean Russia’s reported reserves would be pretty much on a par with those of China by the year end.

Even so adding Russian and Chinese reported reserves together would only come to 3,497 tonnes – a little more than those of Germany in second place and still hugely behind the reported US holding which has, officially, remained unchanged since 2006 when it reported a reduction of 1.6 tonnes.  All the IMF reported reserve figures are somewhat open to question as leased gold – and a number of nations have reported gold leasing activities – remains in reserve figures although it may not actually be available. 

China has also been seen to add gold into its reserves surreptitiously by holding it in non-reported accounts and then updating its total figures at five or six year intervals, although it has been officially been reporting monthly changes in its holdings since July 2015 – but who knows?  Other countries could also be non-reporters of changes in their gold reserves to the IMF for various reasons, so we can only really take the IMF figures as being the best guide available.  We can’t vouch for their overall accuracy!

 

21 Mar 2017

About the author

Lawrence Williams

Lawrence (Lawrie) Williams is a well known London-based writer and commentator on financial and political subjects, but specialising in precious metals news and commentary. He is a qualified and experienced mining engineer having graduated in mining engineering from The Royal School of Mines, a constituent college of Imperial College, London - recently described as the World’s No. 2 University (after MIT).

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