Modest rise in global demand for gold in 2012

Published: Monday, Feb. 18 2013 5:49 p.m. MST

Roughly 5,600 years ago, Egyptians were reportedly smelting ore to separate the gold from the other metals. Since that time, the world’s desire for gold has greatly increased.

As reported by the World Gold Council, global gold demand in 2012 was 4,406 tons, excluding transactions conducted on over-the-counter exchanges. Based on gold prices during 2012, this represents a market value of approximately $236 billion.

Jewelry is the main source of demand for gold, with a total of 1,908 tons used for this purpose in 2012. Technology applications consumed a reported 428 tons of gold last year. On the investment side, total demand for gold in 2012 was reported by the World Gold Council to be 1,535 tons. Investment uses include gold in physical bar form, as coins, in the form of medals and to support Electronically Traded Funds or ETFs.

Global central banks were another significant purchaser of gold in 2012. Net purchases by central banks were reported to be up by 17 percent in 2012 and totaled 535 tons. These central bank purchases accounted for approximately 12 percent of global demand for gold.

India’s 2012 gold demand for jewelry use totaled $29.7 billion, a 3 percent decrease compared to the value of demand in 2011. Next to India, China’s demand for gold used in jewelry was the second largest in the world. The 2012 cost of gold for use in China’s jewelry was estimated at $27.5 billion. A comparative 2012 figure for the U.S. is $5.8 billion.

When measured in terms of dollar value, the greatest year over year increase in overall demand by an entire country was registered by Egypt, where demand increased about 41 percent. Using the same measure, the greatest year over year decrease in demand was reported by France, where demand fell 56 percent in 2012.

On the supply side of the gold equation, net production from gold mines yielded approximately 2,828 tons. The balance of gold supply in 2012 was reported to have come from recycling of existing gold items.

Whether accumulated by an individual investor or a central bank, or used for jewelry at a wedding in India or as a part of a high-tech manufacturing process, global demand for gold remains relatively strong.

Kirby Brown is the CEO of Beneficial Financial Group in Salt Lake City.

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