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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Increased Gold Mining Is a Glittering Prospect

MOSCOW -- Russia plans to increase gold output by the year 2000, but crucial investment largely depends on development of a domestic gold market, senior gold industry officials said.


The head of the state precious metals committee, Yevgeny Bychkov, said a development program would be presented to government experts Wednesday.


"We have great hopes for this program. It should increase Russian gold output to levels that correspond to our needs and our potential," he told a news conference Saturday.


Bychkov, speaking after a presentation by Russia's new Gold Club, gave no figures. But the Sevodnya newspaper said planned output this year was 149 tons, up from 131.9 tons in 1994.


"Gold production has been stable for three years," Bychkov said. "The main task now is attracting investment."


Bychkov said the Gold Club, set up late last year to oversee the creation of a domestic market, would play a key role in attracting finance from Russian and foreign commercial banks.


"We have to create certain conditions in order to attract the banks," he said, referring to a draft presidential decree that might govern the domestic market until a new precious metals law is passed by parliament.


Gold Club President Mikhail Bazhanov said the main priority is to lay legal foundations for the circulation of gold within Russia as a financial instrument, as collateral for credits or securities.


The Gold Club groups about 40 Russian commercial banks, gold producers and refiners, but membership is expected to grow.


The Central Bank has licensed about 100 banks to deal in precious metals and the first operations are starting, ending a decades-old state monopoly on the gold trade. The state needs help from private investment to pay producers for gold.