Silver Imports Double In India - Bullion Coin, Bar and ETF Demand Surging

NEW DELHI-INDIA (Sept 7)   The U.S. Mint’s sales of silver coins are heading for a record again this year, with sales of 33 million ounces (1,026 tonnes) to late August already matching the level of the whole of 2012.

Many other mints including the Perth Mint, the Royal Canadian Mint and the Austrian Mint have also seen a fall in sales recently but are set for record or near record sales again this year.

The Royal Canadian Mint has just this week reported a surge in revenue and profitability for the second quarter of 2013. Revenue increased by 93.8% to $1.05 billion, while profit increased 93.0% to $11.0 million. This represented the first time in the Mint's history that quarterly revenue exceeded $1 billion. The strong results were driven by a sharp increase in bullion demand.

“This unprecedented result was due to the soaring demand for the Mint’s world-renowned gold and silver maple leaf bullion coins and sustained popularity of our expertly handcrafted numismatic products,” said mint president and CEO, Ian E. Bennett.

There was a 144% jump in gold maple leaf sales over the same period last year and a 60% surge in the the sale of Silver Maple Leaf coins to 6.4 million ounces from 4.0 million.

Silver Maple sales look like they may reach 24 million oz in 2013 which will beat the sales of 18.1 million in 2012 and possibly the 23.1 million record seen in 2011.

If one combines, Silver Maple and Silver Eagle sales, they look like they may be more than  68 million oz in 2013. 

This demand from retail and high net worth store of wealth buyers, from just two mints, represents more than 10% of total world silver production of 787 million ounces in 2012. 

Adding the sales of commemorative silver coins as well as sales from the other official mints, total figures for 2013 will more than likely top 2011's total of 118.2 million oz (2013 World Silver Survey).

Import restrictions and the war on gold in India, once the largest buyer of gold soon to be surpassed by China, has led to a surge in Indian silver imports which have doubled.

Thomson Reuters GFMS analyst Sudheesh Nambiath,  estimates that India’s total silver imports have more than doubled from last year, reaching nearly 3,000 tonnes in the first half of 2013 compared with 1,900 tonnes in the whole of 2012, according to the Financial Times.

EU trade data show silver exports to India from the UK – traditionally the country’s top supplier – were 1,415 tonnes in the quarter to June, more than triple the previous year’s level and the highest quarterly total since 2008.

“Because of the restrictions on gold, traders shifted towards silver,” Mr Nambiath told the Financial Times, adding that demand for silver jewellery was likely to rise 20% year-on-year and that manufacturers already had full order books through to December.

There are also some positive signs from increasingly important China. Chinese investors demand for silver helped push prices to 31-year highs in 2011.

Inventories of silver on the Shanghai Futures Exchange have fallen sharply, down 60% since mid-February. And silver trading volumes on the Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE) in the first half of the year were 36% higher even than the first half of 2011.

Another important bullish factor is investment demand in the western world which has remained robust. Silver ETF holdings have risen 6% since late 2012 from 0.608 billion ounces to 0.644 billion ounces today.

Silver ETF holdings have held up extremely well relative to gold ETFs, as investors have increased  purchases for the past two years. As silver plummeted in value, certain silver investors continued to accumulate on the dip .