LAWRIE WILLIAMS: Russia adds another big tranche of gold to its reserves
Russia continues to close the gap on China as being the world’s fifth largest holder of gold in its official reserves. In March figures from the Russian central bank have shown it added some 800,000 ounces – 24.9 tonnes - to its gold reserves bringing them to around a total of 1,679 tonnes – now only some 164 tonnes light of China’s officially reported figure. With China having not added to its gold reserves since October, if this pattern continues Russia could surpass China’s official gold reserve figure by the end of the current year. See graphical representation of Russia’s monthly gold reserve increases over the past 10 years from Nick Laird’s www.goldchartsrus.com website below:
Russia’s March figure is comfortably higher than the 9.3 tonnes it added to its reserves in February, but well below the 31.1 tonnes it added in January after a zero addition month in December last year. Overall the nation has added a little over 65 tonnes in Q1 which is commensurate with taking in virtually all its mined gold over the period. Last year, according to estimates by Metals Focus in its recent Gold Focus 2017 report, Russia mined some 274.4 tonnes of gold (See: Top 20 Gold Producing Nations See Small Gain in Output in 2016) so the Q1 figure reported is just short of a quarter of the 2016 year’s total.
While it appears that Russia may be catching up with China in terms of total reported gold reserves, we have commented here before that perhaps one shouldn’t take the Chinese figures at face value and they may indeed be far higher than the official figures suggest. China has a track record of under-reporting its gold reserves and only started announcing its purported monthly gold reserve increases in July 2015 ahead of the Renminbi’s inclusion in the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights in October last year – supposedly in the light of transparency. But since the inclusion of the Chinese currency in the SDR the country has not reported any reserve increases. A cynic might suggest it has returned to its old ways and will only report any gold reserve build-up when it suits it to do so. (See: Chinese CB reports zero addition to gold reserves in March – back to its bad old ways.) In the past this was at five or six year intervals!