Gold reserve

For the gold mining company, see Gold Reserve (company).
World Gold Reserves from 1845 to 2013, in tonnes (also known as metric tons in the United States)
Official U.S. gold reserve since 1900
Changes in Central Bank Gold Reserves by Country 1993-2014
Changes in Central Bank Gold Reserves by Country versus time for the last 10 years
Gold reserves per capita

A gold reserve is the gold held by a national central bank, intended as a store of value and as a guarantee to redeem promises to pay depositors, note holders (e.g. paper money), or trading peers, or to secure a currency.

It has been estimated that all the gold mined by the end of 2011 totaled 171,300 tonnes.[1] At a price of US$1,500 per troy ounce, reached on 12 April 2013, one tonne of gold has a value of approximately US$48.2 million. The total value of all gold ever mined would exceed US$8.2 trillion at that valuation.[note 1]

However, there are varying estimates of the total amount of gold mined to date, mainly because gold has been mined for thousands of years around the world. Another reason is that some countries are not particularly open about how much gold they are mining. In addition, it is difficult to account for gold output in illegal mining activities.[2]

Wartime relevance

During most of history, a nation's gold reserves were considered its key financial asset and a major prize of war. A typical view was expressed in a secret memorandum by the British Chief of the Imperial General Staff from October 1939, at the beginning of World War II. The British Military and the British Secret Service laid out "measures to be taken in the event of an invasion of Holland and Belgium by Germany" and presented them to the War Cabinet:

It will be for the Treasury in collaboration with the Bank of England, and the Foreign Office, to examine the possible means of getting the bullion and negotiable securities into the same place of safety. The transport of many hundreds of tons of bullion presents a difficult problem and the loading would take a long time. The ideal would of course be to have the gold transferred to this country or to the United States of America. [...] The gold reserves of Belgium and Holland amount to about £70 million and £110 million respectively. [Foot]Note: H. M. Treasury has particularly requested that this information, which is highly confidential should in no circumstances be divulged. The total weight of this bullion amounts to about 1800 tons and its evacuation would be a matter of the utmost importance would present a considerable problem if it had to be undertaken in a hurry when transport facilities were disorganized. At present this gold is believed to be stored at Brussels and The Hague respectively, neither of which is very well placed for its rapid evacuation in an emergency.[3]

The Belgian government rushed to ship the gold to a safe place: Dakar, the capital of Senegal, then part of the French colonial empire. After the Germans occupied Belgium and France in 1940, they demanded the Belgian gold reserve back. In 1941, Vichy French officials arranged the transport of 4,944 boxes with 198 tons of gold to officials of the German Reichsbank.[4]

IMF holdings

Since early 2011, the gold holdings of the IMF have been constant at 90.5 million troy ounces (2,814.1 metric tons).[5]

Officially reported holdings

The IMF regularly maintains statistics of national assets as reported by various countries.[6] These data are used by the World Gold Council to periodically rank and report the gold holdings of countries and official organizations.

On 17 July 2015, China announced that it increased its gold reserves by about 57 percent from 1,054 to 1,658 metric tons, while disclosing its official gold reserves for the first time in six years.[7][8]

The gold listed for each of the countries in the table may not be physically stored in the country listed, as central banks generally have not allowed independent audits of their reserves. Gold leasing by central banks could place into doubt the reported gold holdings in the table below.[9]

Top 40 according to World Gold Council's latest rankings (as at September 2016)[10][11][12][13]
Rank Country/Organization Gold holdings
(in tonnes)
Gold's share of
forex reserves
1  United States 8,133.5 76%
2  Germany 3,377.9 70%
3 International Monetary Fund 2,814.0 N.A.
4  Italy 2,451.8 69%
5  France 2,435.8 65%
6  China 1,838.5 2%
7  Russia 1,542.7 16%
8   Switzerland 1,040.0 6%
9  Japan 765.2 3%
10  Netherlands 612.5 65%
11  India 557.8 6%
12 European Central Bank 504.8 28%
13  Turkey[14] 442.1 16%
14  Republic of China (Taiwan) 423.6 4%
15  Portugal 382.5 62%
16  Saudi Arabia 322.9 2%
17  United Kingdom 310.3 9%
18  Lebanon 286.8 24%
19  Spain 281.6 18%
20  Austria 280.0 45%
21  Kazakhstan 248.2 34%
22  Belgium 227.4 38%
23  Philippines 196.2 10%
24  Venezuela 188.8 64%
25  Algeria 173.6 5%
26  Thailand 152.4 4%
27  Singapore 127.4 2%
28  Sweden 125.7 9%
29  South Africa 125.3 11%
30  Mexico 120.9 3%
31  Libya 116.6 6%
32  Greece 112.7 63%
33  South Korea 104.4 1%
34 Bank for International Settlements 104.0 N.A.
35  Romania 103.7 11%
36  Poland 102.9 4%
37  Iraq 89.8 7%
38  Australia 79.9 7%
39  Kuwait 79.0 10%
40  Indonesia 78.1 3%
- Total for the Top 40 31,461.3

Private holdings

Privately Held Gold[15]
Rank Name Type Gold holdings
(in tonnes)
1 SPDR Gold Shares ETF 672.7[16]
2 ETF Securities Gold Funds ETF 215.2[15]
3 COMEX Gold Trust ETF 164.7[15]
4 ZKB Physical Gold ETF 138.7[15]
5 Central Fund of Canada CEF 52.7[17]
6 Julius Baer Physical Gold Fund ETF 49.1[15]
7 Sprott Physical Gold Trust CEF 38.6[18]
8 BullionVault Bailment 34.2[19]
9 ABSA NewGold Exchange Traded Fund ETF 26.6[20]
10 ETFS Physical Swiss Gold Shares ETF 23.4[21]
11 Central GoldTrust CEF 21.9[22]
12 GoldMoney Bailment 19.4[23]
- Total for the above 12 1,457.2

World holdings

World Gold Holdings (2011)
(Source: United States Geological Survey)[1][24]
Location Gold holdings
(in tonnes)
Share of total
world gold holdings
Total 171,300 100%
Jewellery 84,300 49.2%
Investment (bars, coins) 33,000 19.26%
Central banks 29,500 17.2%
Industrial 20,800 12.14%
Unaccounted 3,700 2.2%

See also


  1. One tonne is equal to approximately 32,150.75 troy ounces.

{ gold, silver, & other precious metals & gems are weighed by the troy ounce, 12 troy ounces = 1 pound not 16 to 1 in most other normal weights, so there would be 24,000 troy ounces to a ton of weight }


  1. 1 2 on page 2 of the pdf file; last paragraph just before the "Production" section on that page
  2. Prior, Ed (2013-04-01). "How much gold is there in the world?". BBC News. Retrieved 2016-10-28.
  3. Memorandum by War Cabinet Secretary E. E. Bridges from October 6, 1939, Secret: Holland and Belgium: Measures to be taken in the event of an invasion by Germany. P. 1 and 4. The National Archives (United Kingdom)
  4. "Belgian gold in foreign hands". Museum of the National Bank of Belgium. 4 March 2010. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  5. "Gold in the IMF". International Monetary Fund. Archived from the original on April 22, 2011.
  6. "Data Template on International Reserves and Foreign Currency Liquidity -- Reporting Countries".
  7. "Gold & Foreign Exchange Reserves".
  8. "Major Factors Affecting Gold Prices Fluctuation". FXdailyReport.Com. 2016-07-22. Retrieved 2016-10-28.
  9. "- Sprott Global Resource Investments Ltd.".
  10. "Research - World Gold Council".
  11. "Latest World Official Gold Reserves - World Gold Council".
  12. "Gold Demand Trends - World Gold Council".
  13. "Top 40 reported official gold holdings (as at September 2016)" is on the 7th page of the pdf file.
  14. Gold has been added to Turkey's balance sheet as a result of a policy accepting gold in its reserve requirements from commercial banks.
  15. 1 2 3 4 5 "CORRECTED-TABLE-Holdings of SPDR Gold, iShares Silver unchanged (March 30)". Reuters. 2 July 2015. Archived from the original on August 1, 2015. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  16. "Total Gold in Trust". SPDR Gold Shares. 31 July 2015. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  17. "Central Fund's Net Asset Value". Central Fund of Canada. 31 July 2015. Archived from the original on August 1, 2015. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  18. "Net Asset Value - Sprott Physical Gold Trust - Sprott Physical Bullion Trusts". Sprott Asset Management. 31 July 2015. Archived from the original on August 1, 2015. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  19. "Daily audit - Allocated gold bar lists and bank statements". BullionVault. 31 July 2015. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  20. "NewGold Exchange Traded Fund". Absa Group. 31 July 2015. Archived from the original on August 1, 2015. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  21. "ETFS Physical Swiss Gold Shares". ETF Securities. 31 July 2015. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  22. "GoldTrust's Net Asset Value". Central GoldTrust. 31 July 2015. Archived from the original on August 1, 2015. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  23. "Monthly Total Value Report". GoldMoney. 31 July 2015. Archived from the original on August 1, 2015. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  24. "Two Methods for Estimating the Price of Gold by Mike Hewitt". DollarDaze Economic Commentary Blog - Gold, Oil, Stocks, Investments, Currencies, and the Federal Reserve. Retrieved 2012-01-08.
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