#World News

India's army of gold refiners face new competition

By Priti Gupta

Refining gold has a long history in the family of Satish Pratap Salunke.

Following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, he and his business collect scrap gold from jewellers, melt it down and sell it back to the jewellers in the form of gold bars.

He has two refineries, one in Kochi in the southern state of Kerala and the other in Tiruchirappalli in Tamil Nadu. Relatives have refineries elsewhere in the south of India.

“Every day my refiners on an average melt two to three kilograms of gold,” he says.

Almost every town in India will have at least one small refinery similar to those run by Mr Salunke. It is known as the “unorganised” refining sector, which distinguishes it from big refiners who make gold bars and coins from imported, unrefined gold.

It is estimated that, in total, Indian households hold a massive 25,000 tonnes of gold, and some of that is always available for sale, particularly when the price of gold is high or the economy is bad and people want to raise some cash.

Jewellers may process returned gold themselves but will often use small refiners who will make the gold back into bars.

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