Global Gold Reserves In 2012 By Central Banks

The latest World Gold Council report details the global gold reserves at the end of 2012, as held by central banks. In this article, we show the  latest figures in the top 40 gold reserve holdings and highlight some 2012 trends.

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The countries that have added most actively to their gold reserves in 2012, were the developing markets. They continue to diversify their dollar and euro based holdings . Gold gives the security and stability that a currency deserves, especially in uncertain times of ongoing “global currency wars” (as detailed in one of our latest articles).

In terms of global gold reserves in 2012, the report describes the general tendency:

Central banks garnered a greater share of gold demand in 2012, accounting for 12% of the total compared with a 10% share in 2011. Total net purchases by central banks of 534.6 tonnes exceeded 2011’s already strong total and signalled a return to levels of buying last seen almost 50 years ago.

Moreover, from a longer term perspective, central banks have continued to be net purchasers of gold. That trend started in 2009 and is confirmed to be intact.

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Since first becoming a net purchaser in Q2 2009, central banks have added almost 1,100.0 tonnes to global gold reserves, almost reserving the 1,143.0 tonnes of net sales conducted over the preceding three years. Global gold reserves, as measured by the IMF’s International Financial Statistics, have steadily increased since Q1 2009: as of November 2012, total world gold reserves were 31,597.6 tonnes, an increase of 6% from the end of March 2009.

At the end of 2012, the global gold reserves per country (central bank) are shown in the following table:


Specifically in the fourth quarter, central banks across the globe added 145 tonnes to their reserves. That is the second highest quarterly total since the sector became a source of demand in Q2 2009. The annual total of 534.6 tonnes represented the greatest level of demand since 1964 as the net of central banks adding to their gold reserves was cast wider, reaching Brazil, Paraguay, Iraq and Venezuela.

  • Russia: added 75.0 tonnes throughout 2012 by domestically produced gold
  • Latin America in 2012: Brazil purchased 34.0 tonnes, Paraguay 7.5 tonnes, Mexico 19 tonnes
  • Iraq: their central bank added 24.1 tonnes of gold to its reserves in the second half of the year
  • South Korea added 30 tonnes and the Philippines 33.6 tonnes in 2012
  • Turkey: the country’s reserves went from 195.3 tonnes to 359.6 tonnes in 2012

Please interpret these figures correctly. As shown in the global gold demand trends 2012, both investment and central bank demand were significantly up in 2012. Common wisdom says it correlates in a positive way with the gold price. Although investment demand has been increasing over the past years, the dollar gold price has been trading in a range since September 2011 while it made new highs in euro early Q4 2012 and yen very recently. It is important to understand the complexities in gold price fixing: although an increase in investment or central bank demand reveal strong fundamentals for gold, they do not simply result in a higher price.

Download the detailed report: Global Gold Demand Trends 2012 from the World Gold Council website.

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  • Alex K

    The China Gold Reserves as this article “accurately” states are the official stated reserves that haven’t been updated for the last few years and do not included the Gold imported from Hong Kong during 2012. I would say when China’s CB announces it’s official Gold holdings next they would be at least double the 1054 tonnes last reported.

  • Thanks for noticing Alex, and you are absolutely right. The difficulty is that everybody has another opinion about it as, so difficult to mention that point in a summary of officially reported figures. I remember that Jim Rickards recently stated that China could have between 1k and 3k additional tonnes unreported gold. We will probably know somewhere in the future.

  • Alex, today a commentary was published by Casey Research in which they revealed the following figures:

    – Gold imports through Hong Kong in December alone hit a record high of 109.8 tonnes.

    – Imports for 2012 also hit a record high of 572.5 tonnes.

    – If you add 2012 mine production, roughly 970 tonnes of gold was delivered to various entities within the country last year.

    – Cumulative imports since 2001 have reached 1,352 tonnes.

    – Since 2001, imports plus production total a whopping 4,793 tonnes.

    Moreover, this table from 2009/2010 shows exactly the same figure as the one I copied in my article (source: latest WGC report)

    The figures indeed don’t add up. Do you have another source?

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