Source: Mail & Guardian – US sends $1-billion worth of gold to SA
Unusually large shipments recently of gold totalling $1.1-billion from New York to South Africa, one of the biggest producers of gold in the world, has set off rumbles in the business world, but Rand Refinery says it is just business as usual.
The commodity movement was detected in recent United States trade data that showed South Africa’s $402-million trade surplus with the US in January had turned into a $689-million deficit by March.
Business news website Quartz said the US Census Bureau’s foreign trade division recorded that 20 tonnes of gold, worth $982-million, left John F Kennedy International Airport in New York for South Africa this year. According to Quartz, “another large shipment occurred in September 2012”.
The Reserve Bank referred the Mail & Guardian to the Rand Refinery — the largest integrated single-site precious metals refining and smelting complex in the world.
Rand Refinery’s chief executive, Howard Craig, said the shipment “is nothing out of the ordinary. Rand Refinery does refining of gold and silver for Africa as well as the conversion of gold from various other countries, such as the US.
“The company imports over 200 tonnes of gold per annum and its activities are not necessarily event or country specific,” although it does not source any metal deposits from conflict-affected areas.
Craig said the company could not acknowledge or attest to any statistics or facts that had not been provided by the company itself.
“Not a big deal”
Absa Capital’s head of commodities trading, Byron Woods, said: “It sounds like a large amount, but it’s not a big deal at all.” What was unusual, however, was for this amount to come into South Africa in such a short period.
He said moving gold in or out of the country would certainly have to get approval. This would need to be done from an exchange control point of view and would probably be controlled by the Reserve Bank.
Woods said it was likely that a client who had invested in the gold futures market had decided to take physical delivery of its gold bars in the US when the contract expired.
The gold is most probably just passing through and bound for markets such as China or India. While there are refineries in North America, gold can be sent to different refineries around the world depending on prices or existing relationships.
One reason to refine the gold might be because there is a premium for a smaller bar sold in the retail industry in India and China.