Gold imports by India, the biggest bullion consumer, likely reached a record last year driven by investment demand, according to the World Gold Council (WGC).
“Purchases were about 800 metric tonnes, compared with 557 tonnes in 2009,” Ajay Mitra, managing director for India and West Asia at the producer-funded group, said on Wednesday in a phone interview from Dubai.
“Imports at that level would be the highest for India in its history,” he said. The group hasn’t released final data for last year. Purchases in 2010 may exceed 750 tonnes, Mitra had said on 17 November. The Bombay Bullion Association said on 3 January that imports probably totalled 700 tonnes.
Gold for immediate delivery rallied 30% last year to reach a record $1,431.25 (Rs64,835) an ounce on 7 December as investors bought the metal as a protector of wealth.
Demand for bullion as an investment in India surged 73% in the year ended 30 September, according to WGC.
“Purchases this year will remain strong,” said Mitra. “Our assessment is demand will continue to be strong. Price is no longer a factor.”
February-delivery futures on the Multi Commodity Exchange of India Ltd was little changed at Rs20,455 ($454) per 10 grams in Mumbai at 2.27 pm.
Prices reached an all-time high of Rs20,924 on December 7. Gold for immediate delivery rose 0.3% to $1,385.95 an ounce.