Overheard In A Gold Vault In Singapore: "We Need Additional Capacity", China's Appetite Is "Insatiable"

Tyler Durden's picture

Yesterday we covered the supply side of the gold market from the perspective of global mints, which were kind enough to advise that they "can’t meet the demand, even if we work overtime." Today, courtesy of Bloomberg, we take a closer look at the demand aspect of the physical gold market, which as most know by now can be described with just one word: China.

But first, while we already know that global mints are working 24/7 and still are unable to meet record demand, in spite or or due to, plunging prices of paper gold, here is how the market looks from the perspective of one of the biggest gold refiners in the world: MKS SA's PAMP refiner in Switzerland, "whose bullion sales to China surged to a record as demand rose for coins, bars and jewelry. PAMP Managing Director Mehdi Barkhordar, who credited China’s “insatiable” appetite for a sales boost of as much as 20 percent last year, remains optimistic even as growth in the world’s second-largest economy slows. “The demand in China is off its peak, but still respectable,” he said last week."

Off its peak? Really - where? Certainly not in Singapore where the largest provider of precious-metals logistics and storage, Brink's, is adding room on top of a vault the company opened in 2012 at the Singapore Freeport building next to Changi International Airport, with a sleek, modernist lobby and a twisting, polished-steel sculpture by Ron Arad that stands 5 meters high. Inside, the gold bars are protected by prison-like barriers, two body scanners and 8-ton, fireproof gates.

Explain to us how this is "off its peak":

“We need additional capacity, so we have to take further space,” said Baskaran Narayanan, the 45-year-old Singapore general manager for Richmond, Virginia-based Brink’s. “There’s a surge in demand for precious metals in Asia, and one can see the focus and movement from the west to the east.”


A new Brink’s vault in Singapore set to open by March will be the company’s fifth in the city state, said Narayanan, who spent two decades in the security industry. The 154-year-old company also is adding space in Hong Kong and mainland China to meet growing storage demand, said Guy Bullen, the firm’s senior vice president for the Asia-Pacific region. Brink’s said Asia-Pacific revenue grew 12 percent to $128.9 million in the first nine months of 2013, more than any other region. Deutsche Bank said in June it started a storage facility in Singapore that can hold as much as 200 tons, its largest outside London. UBS, Switzerland’s biggest bank, opened one to keep bars for its wealth-management clients in Asia. In Shanghai, Malca-Amit Global Ltd. opened a vault in November that can store 2,000 tons, or a pile valued at $80 billion.

Oh, that kind of "off its peak" - we get it now.

Of course, the biggest paradox is that China continues to be grateful to the US momentum-investing community, which continues to dump paper-gold representations such as the GLD ETF, and as Bloomberg reports, "investor sales through gold ETPs wiped $73.4 billion from the value of the funds last year and holdings reached the lowest since October 2009 this month, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The SPDR Gold Trust, the largest gold ETP and which is listed in New York, accounted for 64 percent of global sales last year." And as a result of the ongoing liquidation of paper gold, those who couldn't care less about monthly or annual momentum-boosted P&L (so eliminate the entire US hedge fund community), and just care about buying brick after brick of physical gold at the lowest possible prices are thanking their lucky stars they have a bunch of dumb 2 and 20 chasing paper sellers to do their job for them, especially if and when the PBOC does announce the real amount of gold reserves it has accumulate over the past five years (which are now order of magnitude above the official ~1000 tons of gold last disclosed in 2009).

So going back to the Chinese demand, and the entire topic of west to east gold migration, here is what we know.

“In the western world, we’ve enjoyed a popular bull market in gold, mainly via the gold ETFs, and it appears to be over,” Morris said. “In China, there are a large number of new outlets, including many banks in the provinces, that are selling gold bars. Many Chinese people, who’ve had limited access to gold in the past, think it’s a good idea to have a bar or two as a long-term investment.”


The U.K. shipped 1,291 tons to the refining hub of Switzerland last year through November, more than the previous seven years combined and equal to more than five months of mine output, according to data from European Union statistics service Eurostat and Barclays Plc. Macquarie Group Ltd. says that’s a sign of the movement from west to east.

And once in Switzerland, the gold is refined, processed and sold onward to...

Hong Kong exported a record 1,108.8 tons to China in 2013, more than double the total in 2012, according to data from the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department. Mainland China doesn’t publish the data.


Consumer purchases of gold in China surged 30 percent in the 12 months through September to 996.3 tons, overtaking demand in India, where usage gained 24 percent to 977.6 tons, the World Gold Council estimates. In the first nine months of 2013, China was at 797.8 tons, already eclipsing its full-year record of 778.6 tons, set in 2011, and full-year usage may exceed India’s all-time high 1,006.5 tons in 2010.

Oh, that "off the peak."  Ok then. And let's not forget that while Chinese gold demand is at an absolutely all time record high (and thank you BIS operative Benoit Gilson and Mikael Charoze for those well-timed gold slams), another place that is just waiting for the opportunity to buy as much gold as it legally can is the former larget gold buyer in the world - India.

India’s government choked off inbound shipments by raising import taxes on gold three times last year to help pare a trade imbalance that has weighed on the national currency, the rupee. The 24 percent rise in Indian jewelry, bar and coin purchases to 977.6 tons in the 12 months through September lagged the 30 percent gain to 996.3 tons in China, the gold council said.

How much latent demand is there? A lot: 'Premiums in India reached a record $160 above the London price in December." In fact, demand is so great even with restrictions, that refiners have been forced to add work shifts! Nobody complaining about raising the minimum wage here...

“India will consume gold for a long, long time because, for the Indian farmer, gold is one of his best assets,” said Barkhordar, who runs the PAMP refinery in Switzerland. “He will keep this gold for his daughter’s dowry, but he can also use it in case he’s short of cash for the next crop.”


The surge in orders meant some parts of the refinery worked three shifts instead of the usual two, Barkhordar said. It takes five to six working days to turn mined or scrap gold into a bar, he said. The 200 or so employees at the 110,000-square-foot PAMP facility, located about 3 miles from the Argor-Heraeus SA and Valcambi SA refineries, make bars ranging from 0.3 gram to 12.5 kilograms.

And finally, there is the biggest wildcard of all: the Arabs, who have untold wealth in fiat and otherwise electronic format that one day soon, supposedly before the markets crash and the western central banks lose control, need protection.

Trade also has expanded in Dubai. The emirate accounts for about 25 percent of global physical gold trading, and bullion demand grew eightfold in the past six to 10 years, said Dubai Gold & Commodities Exchange Chief Executive Officer Gary Anderson. The DGCX plans to list a spot gold contact this year to add to its futures offering.

The bottom line comes from Jeremy East, who moved to Hong Kong from London in June and is head of metals trading at Standard Chartered Plc. "Many of the positive drivers for gold prices in the past five years have started to disappear. At the same time, we have seen a significant increase in physical demand for gold in Asia, especially China. The expectation is that Asia is going to play a much bigger role for setting the international prices for gold and also for the whole metals complex going forward."

Of course it will, but for now it is counting its lucky stars that courtesy of ETFs, the BIS and various central and private banks desperate to make their worthless pieces of fiat paper appear valuable by manipulating the price of gold lower, it can accumulate gold at such a torrid pace and at such blue light special prices. It knows very well this won't last. However, in the meantime it will remove as much deliverable product from the paper gold market that when the real delivery demands begin (wink wink Bundesbank), then the real fun starts.

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ebworthen's picture

I hope this means the Gold miners are going to catch a bid.

fonzannoon's picture

it's stuck at 1250 while the fed sexually assaults it

TeamDepends's picture

All the ones who rise to the top are preverts, one way or another.

zaphod's picture

If I had that brick of gold I certainly would not store it in a bank vault, regardless of which country. 

Levadiakos's picture

They're building ghost vaults for ghost town dwellers.

Xibalba's picture

JPM has no more gold! 

krispkritter's picture

I'd like to take this moment to announce the Grand Opening of the Kris P. Kritter Gold Storage and Bait & Tackle Emporium.  I will store your gold free of charge in our state of the art fishing lake/gold vault.  We also sell beer, bait, and tackle...we don't speak Mandarin but we do have a local Chinese Buffet.

OutLookingIn's picture

lol +1

Commence message:


Thank you.

From: China

ps. See you next Tuesday. xo

wee-weed up's picture



"He who have most gold...

Rule world."

Chinese Proverb

Martel's picture

"He who manipulates the gold... rules the World".

- Fed proverb

jaxville's picture

The only reason Red China is seeing "off peak' demand is that the refineries that produce the kilobars for that market are having a difficult time sourcing feed. It is not a demand issue but a supply issue.

StandardDeviant's picture

Fair enough, Zaphod.  But that's not a bank; it's a private vault.  Presumably Brink's, since that's mentioned in the article, but Cisco (no, not that one) also has similar facilities in Singapore.  No doubt there are others.

Larry Dallas's picture

Just bought some more gold and a sprinkle of silver for good measure.

Gold is in the DNA of these wealthy countries. That's all anyone can say.

unrulian's picture

SDB 107; worst place ever to put your gold

TeamDepends's picture

"Ones" as in, on a scale from one to ten.  Jeez, do we have to hold your hand?

ACP's picture

Overhead in Jamie Dimon's office:

"Ben, we need additional capacity to short this bitch! Demand is insatiable!"

Levadiakos's picture

As long as Jamie's bonus is safe we're all good here.

Levadiakos's picture

"Overheard"? In a Sinpaporean gold vault no less! Unsourced, undocumented hyperbole. What, this headline writer couldn't make it at HuffPost?

quasimodo's picture

That was my reaction too, and this coming from a dude who's name means that he enjoys sweet and rich foods along with meats and starches, but look out for skin disorders




Dr. Engali's picture

Overheard....inquiring minds want to know.

Swarmee's picture

A fair amount of hyperbole dressed up as facts, e.g. "which are now order of magnitude above the official ~1000 tons of gold last disclosed in 2009".
So 10k tons in 4 years? Source please!

Canadian Dirtlump's picture

I'm more and more beginning to think that until the system has the grand mal seizure ( and accompanying incontinence ) it so richly deserves we'll continue to be stuck in the mud.

To say I'm sick of getting new assholes bored by these asshole is the understatement of the aeon.

Dr. Engali's picture

Actually I hope it stays here for a bit or gets smacked down. January has been a great month and I need to add to the reserves.

Deacon Frost's picture

I could not have put it better better myself.

kodachrome's picture

They are, I'm invested in Srikepoint gold and Mill City Gold Corp (look the stocks up yourself i'm not pumping stock symbols), i've seen 400% gains already.

Charles Nelson Reilly's picture

can I earn $10k a week there for only working 6.5 hrs?

Sudden Debt's picture

if your 18, blond and have a tight c cup... yes... those miners are lonesome you know...

oddjob's picture

Strikepoint is an area play on a Gold mine that could not turn a profit at $1800. End of story.

Levadiakos's picture

0.025 cents bid for 10,000. LOL

Sudden Debt's picture

I hear ya brother... Amen...

LawsofPhysics's picture

"I hope this means the Gold miners are going to catch a bid." - no shit, but I digress, there is no "market".  Looking more and more like estabilishing an honest market for PMs will require WWIII.


Hedge accordingly.

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

I couldn't give a crap. If they're not willing to pay a dividend in OUNCES of gold or silver... I will ignore them.

Dr. Engali's picture

Damned barbarians.

SgtShaftoe's picture

2014 should be interesting for gold.  There simply isn't enough supply to continue at today's prices.  They can bend reality, but they can't fight the laws of physics, or markets.  Eventually they lose. 

Lore's picture

It's a mystery to me why producers don't simply bypass the blasted exchanges and SELL DIRECT. 


dogbreath's picture

who says they are not.   my understanding is that loans to producers are repayable in gold, somtimes not at current prices.   Are some producers hedged, likely.   So those with the gold to do so I'm sure sell into private contracts  but that doesn't mean there is price discovery.  I wouldn't trust a mining comapany to sell privately at higher than market prices without the spread being pocketed by a broker/insider.  Fuck the shareholders.

Lore's picture

Interesting, if cynical.  I don't think what you describe would fit the model of companies whose executives I have met, but that doesn't mean it couldn't be prevalent elsewhere.

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

My guess: would be brown bags filled with cash.

Sudden Debt's picture

does anybody notice that those vaults are owned by English and American banks who are also involved in the actual goldscam?

Who says they're not also playing the flipflop game with the stuff that is supposed to be in those Azian vaults?

Do people get access over there to see the gold?

bill1102inf's picture

$1250 today, what was it last year this time??? WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE?!

ParkAveFlasher's picture

<Hey, that's my bar!

<Hey, that's my bar!

kaiserhoff's picture

Could be mine.  I can identify it.

It was big and heavy and shit.  No tungsten.

PontifexMaximus's picture

Finally you got it, the big smelters are only in one country, correct me, if I'm wrong, yesterday writing about Austrian mint is .....argent de poche....pourboire ....Check the customs stats of said country.

kaiserhoff's picture

My appetite for gold and silver is also insatiable.

My bank account, not so much.

Given what Charles Hugh-Smith had to say about systemic fraud a couple of days ago, China may be similarly constrained.

The_Ungrateful_Yid's picture

I'm loving 2014 for Gold. For once I feel, all the bullshit and the up and downs from the past will be over by Thanksgiving. Once the weak fuckers sell all their phyzz and there is practically none left, the price will just rise and rise dramatically.