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Canada sells off virtually its entire gold holdings

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Canadian government has sold off almost its entire reserves of gold, according to the latest official figures from its department of finance.

At the end of February, it held just 77 troy ounces of gold coins. The data showed that 41,106 ounces of gold coins were sold in December; 32,860 ounces in January and 21,851 in February.

Finance Department spokesman David Barnabe told CBC News: "The decision to sell the gold was not tied to a specific gold price, and sales are being conducted over a long period and in a controlled manner.

"The government has a long-standing policy of diversifying its portfolio by selling physical commodities (such as gold) and instead investing in financial assets that are easily tradable and that have deep markets of buyers and sellers.”

Canada’s peak bullion holding was in the 1960s, when had built up stocks of more than 1,000 tonnes. The figure was reduced to just 2.4 tonnes by 2003.

Although the official report does not specify which gold coins the Canadian government has sold off, the Royal Canadian Mint is a major producer of collectable bullion coins. It has sold more than 25 million troy ounces of its Maple Leaf coins internationally since 1979.

It’s likely that Canada has profited from its latest sales, as gold is continuing to enjoy a sustained rally this year due to its safe haven qualities in volatile financial and political conditions.

Indeed, while Canada has been selling, other national governments have been snapping up bullion.

The amount of gold bought by central banks in the second half of last year increased by 25 per cent compared to the same period in 2014. The data from the World Gold Council showed governments bought 336 tonnes of the precious metal in the final six months of 2015. China, India and Russia were the biggest national buyers.