Russia mined approximately 171 tonnes of gold in 2002, said Sberbank Deputy Director Alexander Zakharov on radio station Echo Moskvy. He said that 190 tonnes, including some reserves, were exported in the year.
Zakharov said that Russia is the world's fifth largest miner of gold. Only 30 tonnes of gold are consumed domestically including the jewelry industry. 'We consider this low level of consumption unallowable, though it was an increase of 30% compared to 2001,' said Zakharov. He said that in countries like Turkey and Italy, where there is no mining of gold, but there is a developed jewelry industry, consumption reaches more than 100 tonnes annually.
He said that Russia has three factors important for developing a jewelry industry: equipment, design know-how, and a value-added tax (VAT). 'It is more advantageous for us to develop this market and increase domestic consumption and have the added income in the form of taxes on the finished products or the VAT,' he said.
According to Zakharov, in 2002 Russian banks purchased approximately 120 tonnes of gold. Sberbank alone purchased gold and precious metals on the international market worth around USD 3 billion. Moreover, demand in Russia for coins minted from precious metals is also increasing. In 2002, Sberbank sold gold and silver coins worth USD 10.5 million, and has sold USD 11 million worth of coins already in 2003.