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Thursday, September 26, 2013
Lower gold price spurs rush to buy bullion
Falling gold prices in recent months have encouraged on bargain hunters across Asia to buy more of the precious metal.
Gold has traditionally been bought in India and China as insurance against currency fluctuations and inflation.
Perth Mint, which produces 10 per cent of the world's gold bullion, has been keeping a close watch on gold price movements.
The miner's analysis and strategy manager Bron Suchecki told Radio Australia that it was overwhelmed with interest from Asian buyers when gold had a massive correction early this year.
"Premiums for the bars went up by many multiples of the normal premium, so it was very dramatic," he said.
Mr Suchecki says the Asian market is very price sensitive compared to the West.
"They seem to buy on dips in price and during times of price weakness, they are very price savvy compared to Western buyers who want to buy when the price is going up and they feel more confident that the price is rising," he said.
China has increasingly become a larger distribution point for Perth Mint.
But India, another key market for the miner, has been hit by a recent government crackdown on imports.
Thailand and Turkey are two other countries that have seen a rise in gold consumption, according to Mr Suchecki.
He says one kilo gold bars are typically sold to the Asian region.
"Often these are melted down into smaller bars by manufacturers and then re-used, because not many people can afford a $45,000 gold bar."
There is a strong cultural element to buying gold in Asia, particularly in India where there are religious associations.
Also, there are not many secure banking facilities in rural parts of Asia, which drives people to put their savings into gold.
"In the country areas in India and some other Asian areas, there isn't a bank branch they trust, there is a lot of high level corruption in some of those countries," Mr Suchecki said.
"So for people to save, they don't trust the banking system or the infrastructure just isn't there...gold is a way of doing savings."
Perth Mint, which refines around 300 tonnes of gold annually, says it sells the precious metal to importers and distributors as well as some of the larger bullion banks, which would then distribute to consumers.
The miner usually sells five to six tonnes, or $US300 million worth of gold a week, obtained from its gold mines across Australia.
Gold prices dropped to almost a three-year low in June and as a result, demand for the precious metal rose 53 per cent in the second quarter of this year, according to data from the World Gold Council.