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China's rise reshapes global gold industry

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-12-03 10:34
Consumers browse gold jewelry at a store in Taiyuan, capital of Shanxi province. [Photo provided to China Daily]

COLORADO SPRINGS, the United States - The world's biggest gold merchants have given two thumbs up to China's increased involvement in the World Gold Council.

"This will benefit all players in the gold industry," said Chris Niu, vice-president of the Toronto-based investment group Gravitas Mining Corp.

"China's involvement is very important because the demand for gold is high in China," said Niu.

"It is very clear that gold flows have been moving eastward for some time," said Timothy Wood, executive director of Denver Gold Group.

"Price formation is the most important thing, and it is only a matter of time before gold is listed in yuan instead of US dollars," Wood predicted. "It may take several decades, but it is going to happen."

Wood, a South African native and gold expert, explained the need and desire to put China in the driver's seat of the global gold freight train.

"It's just a factor of the global markets, and that change is going to push us more to need Chinese investors, both retail and institutional," Wood said.

In September, the WGC officially accepted Shandong Gold Group as its 25th member, and announced that Song Xin, the current chairman of the China Gold Association, would chair a new China Chapter of the WGC.

The news did not come as a big surprise to the WGC, whose members mine 92 percent of the world's gold.

With Song anticipating that two more Chinese gold mining giants will soon join the WGC, industry experts see China's increasing involvement as good news in an industry that has seen some volatility in recent years.

The increased China presence may have triggered other industry activities and consolidation, experts said.

"Chinese consumers bought 1,000 metric tons of gold for personal consumption last year, which is just tremendous - much bigger than any other market in the world," Wood said, whose Denver Group relies on proprietary software and a skeletal staff to model industry efficiency.

The WGC, founded in 1987, has seen the world's most populous nation becoming the world's largest gold producer and top gold consumer in three decades.

In 2017, China's gold production reached 426 metric tons, while gold consumption reached 1,089 tons, figures that stunned industry experts and necessitated China's heightened involvement in the WGC.

"It will be good to stabilize pricing and create better liquidity," Minaurum Gold's Darrell Rader said.

Minaurum, a Canadian company, mines gold, silver and copper in Mexico.

Benefits to China's heightened involvement in the global gold world may also be measured in terms beyond money.

Wood noted that with increased contact and communication between Asia's new mineral giant and traditional Western power brokers, detente and cooperation are inevitable byproducts of such alliances.

"Mutual cooperation is just a natural byproduct of these business relationships - they are fantastic at reducing misunderstandings and enhancing cultural exchanges that help people understand each other," he said.

In the past, it was the Western powers that dominated the search for the precious metal and have profited from it.

"The British, South Africans and Canadians have put together some real global powerhouses, and it's just a matter of time before we see one of those rise out of China," Wood said.

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