Russian exports of gold fell by a factor of 3.3 in 2018 compared with the previous year, from 56.6 tonnes (1.82mn ounces) to 17.05 tonnes (548,083 ounces), the Assay Office said on February 19, according to RIA Novosti.
Russia has been actively building up gold as a share of its gross international reserves (GIR) since 2007, as bne IntelliNews reported previously. The Central Bank of Russia (CBR) has been buying most of the goal produced domestically and purchased a record amount in 2018.
Last year’s gold purchases were financed from the sale of circa $100bn of US treasury bills by the CBR, as bne IntelliNews reported in November, as Russia begins the long slow process of dumping the US dollar as the currency of international trade.
At the same time the government has approved licenses to develop several very large gold fields that have sat fallow for over two decades, with the Sukhoi Log deposit being the biggest and more important among them.
Russian gold refining plants increased gold production by 2.45% to 314.42 tonnes (10.1mn ounces) in 2018. Last year a little more than 5.4% of the total gold produced in Russia was exported, while about 273.7 tonnes of gold was purchased by the central bank to replenish gold and foreign exchange reserves.
In 2016, 22.39 tonnes of gold were exported from Russia, in 2015 — 39.41 tonnes, in 2014 — 75.66 tonnes, reports Vedomosti.
Earlier, the World Gold Council (WGC) reported that Russia bought a record gold quantity in 2018 of 274.3 tonnes. Russia's gold reserves are growing for the 13th consecutive year and increased over this period by 1,726.2 tonnes to 2,113 tonnes by the end of 2018.