Our annual year in review takes a reflective look at some of the most notable Bullion news stories from 2015, from the revival of the historic RMR brand to the release of the cast 1 kg gold bar.
Royal Mint Bullion Market Roundup – 2015, a year in review
January 2015 saw the revival of the historic Royal Mint Refinery (RMR) brand as we introduced a new range of RMR branded bars. For the first time in 47 years, The Royal Mint Bullion website began selling gold and silver bars directly to the public. Also in January, 61 tonnes of gold was withdrawn from the Shanghai Gold Exchange causing a gold rush on the run up to the Chinese Lunar New Year. In other news, late January saw robbers stealing up to 10 ounces of historic gold nuggets from the Wells Fargo History Museum in downtown San Francisco.
The news in February 2015 was inundated with stories of a possible gold rush over fears of an exit from the EU by Greece. So-called currency wars led to many investors turning to gold in other parts of Europe. The Swedish central bank cut its interest rate to below zero at the beginning of February causing many to move their money from bank accounts and into Bullion.
Also in February Chinese banks and the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) met to discuss a possible replacement for the century-old gold-fixing benchmark. Many experts suggested that this was unsurprising given that demand for gold in China has doubled since 2009, and in 2013, the country surpassed India as the largest Bullion buyer.
March 2015 brought speculation that the US Federal Reserve was reconsidering its stance on interest rates, which had been kept at a record 0% since the financial crash in 2008. This subsequently resulted in an increase in the gold price as gold traditionally trades higher in a low-interest environment. It was also suggested that the price of Gold could double by 2030, due to a steadily increasing average income rate in Asia, as well as an increase in appetite for gold jewellery in China and India.
China also featured in the news in April 2015 as the market in China saw a surge in demand in the first quarter of 2015. Gold consumption in the country reached a record 326 tonnes between January and March 2015, as the economy had been steadily increasing following the 2014 slowdown in the country’s economy.
In more local news, a mining firm was granted a licence to dig for gold in the highlands of Scotland. GreenOre Gold suggested that there could be as much as 3 million ounces of the precious metal waiting to be discovered and permission had now been given by the Crown Estate to carry out exploratory operations. Gavin Berkenheger, managing director of GreenOre, told The Telegraph newspaper: “Over two years we have found that the whole of Aberdeenshire is a ripe area for gold mineralisation. We’re just trying to locate where in Aberdeenshire the gold deposit is.”
May 2015 saw another busy month for international gold news. Russia had reportedly resumed stockpiling gold at the beginning of 2015, leading to Russia’s total gold stocks reaching 1,238.3 tonnes. It was also suggested that Germany had begun to rise amid economic uncertainty in Greece and its impact on the Euro.
June 2015 proved a significant month for The Royal Mint Bullion trading platform. As Greek investors were clamouring to buy gold, the Royal Mint experience a massive surge in demand for The Sovereign Gold Bullion coins from customers based in Greece.
Signature Gold was also introduced in June 2015 which allows customers a chance to purchase gold in smaller quantities, based on its monetary value. Martin McDade, The Royal Mint’s Director of Bullion, said: “The launch of our online bullion platform last September opened up gold trading to an audience that may previously have been put off by the perceived complexities of the market. With the introduction of Signature Gold™, we hope to expand this audience even further.”
July 2015 was again focused on China with a shocking revelation that the Bullion reserves of the country stood at just 1,658 tonnes which was much lower than anticipated by many gold industry experts. The gold price also fell in July as the US Federal Reserve prepared to tighten its monetary policy causing international investors to sell gold in the anticipation that the US Fed will be raising interest rates. However, as the price of gold fell, silver prices increased. Speculations that demand for silver could soon outstrip supply quickly became a reality as stocks of silver at many bullion suppliers were soon exhausted.
In August 2015, the World Gold Council reported that Europe was becoming the world’s leading bar and coin market, pulling ahead of India and other countries. China was again in the news as, despite the drop in the country’s stock market causing the value of the Yuan to fall, appetite for gold in the country was still increasing almost daily.
Despite months of speculation, September 2015 saw a gold price rise in response to the US Federal Reserve announcing that it will not be raising interest rates. The statement sparked relief among gold investors, who feared that a rise in interest rates would hit the price of gold. Investments in silver also increased as investors turned to silver and other physical assets in response to a volatile stock market. Also, much like throughout Europe, smaller gold bars began to increase in popularity in Asia. Traditionally, 1kg bars are traded in the region but the current low price of gold has sparked an interest in new investors looking to trade in smaller amounts and demand for 100g gold bars has increased.
October 2015 proved an important month for Royal Mint Bullion as the RMR 1kg cast gold bar was released to mark the first anniversary of the online trading platform. In the first year of trading, the website has seen a 57% increase in bullion sales and has opened up gold trading to a whole new audience.
November 2015 saw reports that China was still on a gold ‘buying spree’ as the historic devaluation of the Yuan earlier in the year caused investors to seek protection from further market volatility by investing in precious metals. This increased interest showed little sign of slowing, according to the World Gold Council. Lower prices pushed up overall demand by 8% in the third quarter to 1,120 tonnes compared with a year earlier.