Russia’s surging gold exports have for the first time exceeded exports of natural gas, data from the Federal Customs Service and the central bank (CBR) shows.

According to the statistics, in April and May, Russian mining companies sold 65.4 tons of gold abroad worth $3.55 billion.
Russian gas exports for the same period stood at $2.4 billion. According to the CBR’s preliminary assessment, in general, for the second quarter of 2020, exports of gas brought Russia $3.5 billion in revenue – less than that from gold exports in just two months.

According to the head of the Sustainability Risk Assessment Group at ACRA, Maxim Khudalov, this is the first time this has happened in modern Russian history. He told RBC business news outlet that since at least 1994, gas exports have traditionally brought Russia more revenue than sales of gold.

Sales of Russian gold have been surging lately, increasing by more than 14 times over the year. In April-May last year, Russia exported $247 million-worth of the yellow metal, and in the first quarter of 2020, the figure reached $1.4 billion.

The sharp increase occurred, among other things, due to the CBR’s decision to abandon gold purchases with the price of the precious metal rising to a near-decade high, Khudalov said. He was echoed by the vice president of Otkritie Bank, Alexey Zaytsev, who also pointed to the CBR’s complete refusal to buy gold as well as the beginning of the active gold mining season.

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Last year, Russia exported $5.7 billion worth of gold, with almost all of the volume purchased by the United Kingdom. According to customs data, gold exports to Britain have grown more than 12 times in terms of value, to $5.33 billion. Supplies to the UK accounted for 93 percent of all Russian gold exports. Twelve other countries, including Kazakhstan and Switzerland, bought only $409 million-worth of Russian gold.

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