India’s army of gold refiners face new competition

India's army of gold refiners face new competition
Small gold refinery in IndiaWorld Gold Council

Metal processing has a long story in Satish Pratap Salunke’s home.

He and his company, in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, accumulate waste gold from jewelers, melt it down, and then return it in the form of metal bars.

He operates two factories, one in Tiruchirappalli in Tamil Nadu and the other in Kochi in Kerala’s southwestern condition. In the south of India, friends have industries abroad.

He claims that “my manufacturers melt two to three pounds of silver on average every day.”

Nearly every Indian city will have at least one little factory like Mr. Salunke’s. It is known as the “unorganised” processing industry, which distinguishes it from big manufacturers who make silver pubs and coins from imported, crude gold.

A significant 25, 000 tonnes of gold are reportedly owned by American households, and some of that is usually for sale, especially when the price is high or the economy is struggling and people want to raise some money.

Although they may process returned gold on their own, they frequently employ little refiners to re-use the gold.

Satish Pratap Salunke

Satish Salunke

Local jewelers like dealing with small manufacturers like his because they work fast and are willing to take cash, according to Mr. Salunke.

Because we have offices in every city and have a few little models, the majority of jewelers choose to purchase their jewelry from us. A jeweler can return his or her delicate platinum in a few hours, unlike large refiners, who will take days to develop the recovered gold.

According to the World Gold Council, of the 900 kilograms of gold refined in India in 2023, 117 came from recycled resources.

However, India’s large commercial golden refiners are looking into that recycling industry.

They have grown in recent years thanks to favorable import duties on their primary source of crude, imported metal known as platinum doré.

Between 2013 and 2021, India’s big- level refiners increased their power from 300 to 1, 800 tonnes of gold a month.

However, it is challenging for them to buy enough crude gold to maintain their refineries. In fact, less than 50 % of their processing power is used, according to Harshad Ajmera, director of the Association of Gold Refiners and Mints.

But many large refiners have been setting up scrap storage facilities in large cities in an effort to turn unnecessary gold into high-quality bars.

” At present most of the recycling of gold is done by the unorganised sector ]small refiners ]- that has to change”, says Mr Ajmera.

Presentational grey line

Presentational grey line

He wants India to become a worldwide hub for gold processing, which may require more crude gold and for large companies to retake more of the metal recycling business.

The largest silver processing facility and transport hub in the world is in Switzerland. We want India likewise to be in the same place”, says Mr Ajmera.

CGR Metalloys is one of India’s leading metal manufacturers, processing about 150 kilograms of gold a month.

It has the most advanced technology for silver smelting and processing, which it claims is better for the environment and may ensure the beauty of its gold to extremely high levels, like the other big players.

” The delicate silver is analysed to the highest degrees of accuracy, on different methods of golden assaying”, says James Jose, managing chairman at CGR.

In Kerala, it has set up three metal recycling facilities.

” Indian industries have a huge capability… we have large fees. Therefore, establishing set centers will improve the circulation of broken gold. This will help increase my output by 30 % to 40 %”, says Mr Jose.

In recent years, the state has become more involved in the processing market. In 2020 the Bureau of Indian Standards ( BIS ) introduced a range of standards for gold bars including purity, weight, markings and dimensions.

Refineries that have received BIS approval may offer their bars on the commodity markets.

The industry is gradually transforming into more organization and performance, led by well-known industries that are licensed by the Bureau of Indian Standards, which are providing reliable measures for delicate silver items, making India a world hub, according to Somasundaram PR, the head of the World Gold Council India.

Some data suggest that smaller refiners are losing ground. According to consultancy Metals Focus, in 2015 between 70 and 75 % of the recycling industry was unorganised, by 2021 this had declined to between 60 and 65 %.

Small gold refinery in India

World Gold Council

Mr. Salunke claims he knows his customers, but the actions taken by large recycling companies do n’t concern him much.

Local jewelers do n’t want to pay an excessive recycling fee, he claims.

And, like other smaller refiners, Mr Salunke has also been investing in modern refining technology.

They are moving away from using nitric acid to purify gold, instead switching to Aqua Regia, which is less polluting.

” The gold recycled by us is as pure as gold recycled by an organised refinery”, says Mr Salunke. It would be wrong to say that we cannot refine gold to its purest form because we now have a facility where we can test the purity.