Kazakhstan to Put 20% of its Foreign Currency Reserves in Gold

June 13, 2012 at 18:49

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Kazakhstan’s central bank plans to boost the share of gold in its gold and foreign currency reserves to 20 percent from 14-15 percent, deputy bank chairman Bisengali Tadzhiyakov said on Wednesday.

Tadzhiyakov, who gave no time frame for the move, said last week Kazakhstan planned to buy 22 tonnes of gold from local producers, which at that time he estimated would boost the share of the metal in the reserves to 15 percent from about 12 percent.

“We will buy from Kazzinc Corp. 20 tonnes (of gold) in 2012, and a further 4.5 tonnes from Kazakhmys,” he told journalists on Wednesday, reading out updated figures from his report prepared for presentation in parliament. “The total volume is 24.5 tonnes.”

The central bank also announced last week that it would cut its holdings in the ailing euro currency to 25 percent from 30 percent.

Former Soviet Kazakhstan is one of a number of countries, including Russia, Mexico, Colombia, and South Korea, that have built up their official gold holdings in recent years.
Most buying has been seen from Asian and emerging-market central banks, which typically hold a smaller proportion of their currency reserves in bullion than developed economies.

Official-sector gold purchases rose to their highest since the mid-1960s last year, metals consultancy GFMS has said, largely as developing countries diversified their foreign exchange holdings in response to the sovereign debt crisis.

Only one refinery in Kazakhstan, operated by Glencore-owned miner Kazzinc in the east of the country, refines ingot to international standards. Copper miner Kazakhmys refines gold at another plant to meet domestic standards.

The central bank currently purchases all of the gold produced in Kazakhstan. The country’s net gold and foreign currency reserves totaled $33.8 billion at the end of May, 17 percent more than at the end of last year.

“Earlier we had between 7 percent and 9 percent (of gold) in the structure of our reserves. Today it’s already 14 or even almost 15 percent,” Tadzhiyakov said.

“In line with our concept, we plan to raise (the gold share) to 20 percent,” he said, giving no time frame for the increase. “Our task for the time being is not to push away our gold producers. We keep buying.”

Tadzhiyakov said the central bank had bought 5.3 tonnes of gold last year. He said the bank had purchased another 10.3 tonnes since the start of 2012.

Kazakhstan’s refined gold output totaled 16.6 tonnes in 2011, data published by the State Statistics Agency show.

Kazakh central bank governor Grigory Marchenko told reporters last week that the bank had amassed more than 100 tonnes of gold in its reserves.