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Gold Refining Industry in India

 

James Jose

Association of Gold Refineries and Mints

 

 

India continues to be a major consumer of gold, often importing around 600 to 900 tonnes per annum, which is roughly 25% of the global annual production of bullion.   It is also estimated that 25% of the domestic demand  for bullion is catered by the gold refining industry from the recycling of old jewellery supplied by the jewellery shops as well as  the gold loan agencies disposing of their defaultee accounts. This refining of domestic scrap is undertaken by the medium and large scale gold refineries operating in the organized sector, as well as by the hundreds of smaller refineries operating in the unorganized sector in the smaller towns and cities.

 

The association of gold refineries and mints, a registered body of the medium and large scale gold refineries in the country is estimated to have a combined gold refining capacity of around 500 tonnes per annum, spread among its 12 member refineries operating in various parts of the country. Even though most of the medium scale refineries have a refining capacity of around 100 kgs per day or 30 tonnes per annum, most of these units are operating at around 25% of their installed capacity, mainly due to the shortage and cyclical availability of domestic scrap gold / jewellery available from jewellery shops, gold lending agencies, temples and other religious institutions,

 

Sl no

Company

Factory location

Annual gold refining Capacity

name

1

MMTC-PAMP  India Pvt Ltd, Haryana,

Mewat Dist. Haryana

150 tonnes

2

Shirpur Gold Refinery Limited, Mumbai

Shirpur, Dhulia

217 tonnes

3

Chemmanur Gold Refinery Pvt Limited, Cochin

Cochin

30 tonnes

4

Bangalore Refinery, Bangalore

Bangalore

30 tonnes

5

GGC Gujarat Gold Centre Pvt Ltd,

Ahmedabad

30 tonnes

6

Zaveri& Co Pvt Ltd, Ahmedabad

Uttranchal

30 tonnes

7

National Refinery Pvt Ltd, Mumbai

Mumbai

30 tonnes

8

Royal Gold Refinery,  Mumbai

Mumbai

30 tonnes

9

National India Bullion Refinery, Mumbai

Mumbai

30 tonnes

10

M D Overseas Ltd., Mumbai

Mumbai

30 tonnes

11

Kundan Industries, New Delhi

Uttaranchal

30 tonnes

12

BansalImpex, Ahmedabad

Ahmedabad

30 tonnes

13

Parekh Platinum Mumbai

Mumbai

30 tonnes

14

Jalan refinery, New Delhi

New Delhi

30 tonnes

15

Sai refinery, New Delhi

New Delhi

30 tonnes

16

Eidelweiss  – upcoming

Ahmedabad

70 tonnes

17

Rajesh Exports, Bangalore

Uttaranchal

Total

827 tonnes

                                                                                                                            

Import of gold dore: Of late, some of these refineries have been able to increase their capacity utilization with gold dore imported from various mining countries. However, even the import and availability of gold dore is haphazard and not steady for a plethora of reasons, the main reason being that the medium and major gold mines around the world have committed / tied up their long term production capacities with the major refinery groups operating in Europe, Africa and Australia. The vertical drilling operations of these rock gold mines entails huge capital investments, calling for long term commitments and tie ups with the consuming  refineries, as well as hedging and financing from merchant bankers.  Policy hurdles on dore import are restraining the Indian refineries in engaging with these mines for long term contracts.

 

 

That leaves the option of only horizontal mining or alluvial gold available for sourcing for the medium scale refineries in India. These types of gold mining agencies are mostly artisanal groups, producing gold from their shallow mines, in a semi mechanized manner, mostly operating in the African and Latin American countries. These mining groups supply their daily outputs to aggregators or exporting agencies who then supply it to the various refineries in India and the Middle East, mostly in dore bar form, with purities ranging from 65 to 95% gold content.

 

Operational hurdles in gold dore import: This association has been regularly interacting with the various Govt agencies in the country to streamline the operational procedures and guidelines on dore import. Lack of direct same day airline connectivity for the gold cargo, delays in the customs dept. for inspection and sampling, excessive documentation work , bonds and bank guarantees , procurement certificates , utility certificates etc to be fulfilled with the central excise dept, as well as the delays caused by 20% export fulfillment are all hampering the speedy turnaround of the imported dore, and adding up to the costs, often making the entire operations non viable for the domestic gold refineries.

 

Since gold refineries import dore under the 80:20 norms wherein the duty paid 20% material has to be supplied duty free to export purposes, they keep waiting for this CVD refund, often blocking the precious working capital resources of the refineries for several months. The domestic refining industry is looking for policy initiatives and not import duty concessions, to make their operations viable. If necessary policy support is given to this nascent domestic refining industry, the entire domestic requirement of 1000 tonnes of bullion per annum can be refined locally thereby leading to employment generation, GDP growth and tax revenue to the Govt. This will also help in tackling the mounting current account deficit problems of the foreign trade.

 

The main problem areas of the domestic refining industry are as follows, which is being continuously taken up with the various agencies such as Director General of Export promotion, Central board of excise and customs, Reserve bank of India, Director General of Foreign trade and the Ministries  of commerce,  Industries and Finance :

1)     Simplification of gold dore import shipment documents

2)     80:20 scheme of dore import and problems of CVD refund

3)     Classification of silver dore as gold dore by customs

4)     Regulating gold dore and bullion imports : fixation of quotas to regulate impact on CAD

5)     Sale of gold 20% export quota to EOU / SEZ category

6)     Simplification of dore import export procedures / introducing pass book

7)     Gold monetization scheme to mobilize gold from general public

 

The association is looking forward to the continuous support and encouragement from the domestic Gem and jewellery industry as well, in tackling these pertinent issues, so that sufficient quantity of gold can be made available to the jewellery industry without depending on bullion imports.

 

 

Benchmarking Indian bullion products : On the qualitative front, Indian gold refining industry is operating at par with the best refineries in the world, implementing industry best practices, having their testing laboratories confirming to the IS 1418: 2009 and IS 17025 : 2005 standards. Their production processes and plant and technology are adhering to the global green standards and the gold sourcing and supply chain arrangements are confirming to the responsible sourcing accreditations, from conflict free zones.  Since the country is importing gold bullion from refineries all over the world, and that the entire domestic production of bullion get consumed within the country, international certifications like DMCC or LBMA accreditation per say does not serve any purpose for the Indian refineries, rather the country should establish our own quality certification and accreditation for good delivery bullion products, with sufficient referral gold labs and inter laboratory testing. This benchmarking of bullion products will also support the gold physical deliveries of the multi commodity exchanges in the country.

 

The Bureau of Indian standards has introduced several standards for the gold and silver industry and we need to build up further on this base to evolve rating /accreditation mechanisms, at par with the best in the world.  

 

Monetizing gold from the public: The gold refining industry is looking forward to a modified gold deposit scheme from the RBI to mobilize a portion of the 25000 tonnes of gold held by the general public. The scheme can be successful by offering a threshold deposit of 50 grams of gold, with a minimum deposit period of 3 years and by offering a reasonable rate of return, in gold form and by utilizing the melting and assaying services of the BIS recognized hallmarking centers The Bureau of Indian standards has accredited around 300 gold testing laboratories/hallmarking centers in the country and their services/standards are at par with the international standards of testing and hallmarking of jewellery. The gold so assayed shall then be submitted to the bank , from where it is sent to the gold refineries for refining and subsequently the refined  bullion shall be credited to the customer’s account in the bank.

 

A transparent and credible mechanism to evaluate the old gold and then to monetize the refined gold will amply ensure recirculation of the gold holdings of the general public, thereby reducing the dependence on further bullion imports. 

 

 

 

The author is founder secretary of the Association of gold refineries and mints and can be contacted at mail@chemmanurrefinery.com

 

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