Central banks

5 May, 2023

Central bank demand makes a record-breaking start to 2023.

  • Central bank demand hit 228t in Q1, 34% higher than the previous Q1 record, set in 2013
  • This follows the record annual demand of 1,078t in 2022
  • Buying during the quarter was reported by both emerging and developed market banks.
TonnesQ1'22Q1'23 YoY % change
Central banks & others82.7228.4176

Source: Metals Focus, World Gold Council

Central bank gold buying made a blistering start to 2023. Q1 demand reached 228t. While lower than the figures seen in the previous two quarters this is nonetheless the strongest first quarter on record.1 

This is all the more impressive considering it follows the record-breaking pace of demand last year. The rolling four-quarter total jumped significantly to 1,224t in Q1 following massive buying in recent quarters. As with the figures for both Q3 and Q4 2022, data for the current quarter contains a significant estimate for unreported activity.


Central bank demand hits Q1 record, maintaining its upward trend*

Central bank demand hits Q1 record, maintaining its upward trend*

Central bank demand hits Q1 record, maintaining its upward trend*
*Data to 31 March 2023. Source: Metals Focus, Refinitiv GFMS, World Gold Council

Sources: Metals Focus, Refinitiv GFMS, World Gold Council; Disclaimer

*Data to 31 March 2023.

Four central banks accounted for the majority of reported purchasing during Q1.2  The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) was the largest single buyer during the quarter. The addition of 69t, the first increase in its gold reserves since June 2021, confirms that buying in Q1 was not only the domain of emerging market central banks. Gold reserves at MAS now total 222t, 45% higher than at the end of 2022.

The People’s Bank of China (PBoC), disclosed that its gold reserves had risen by 58t. Since recommencing reports of purchases in November 2022, the PBoC has added 120t to its gold reserves, lifting them to 2,068t (4% of total reported gold reserves).

Turkey was again a big buyer of gold during the quarter: official reserves rose by 30t. Combined purchases of 45t in January and February were offset by a sale in March – the first since November 2021.3 15t of gold was sold into the local market following a temporary partial ban on gold bullion imports.4  Overall, this lifted total gold reserves to 572t (34% of total reserves). 

The Reserve Bank of India also added a modest 7t in Q1, lifting its gold reserves to 795t, while the Czech Republic (2t) and the Philippines (1t) were also notable buyers.

A significant update during Q1 came from the Central Bank of Russia in a resumption of its reporting of gold reserves, back filling data from the end of January 2022 to date. We can now see that in Q1 Russia’s official gold reserves fell by 6t, to 2,327t (25% of total reserves). However, even with this decline – possibly related to coin-minting – the country’s gold reserves are 28t higher than when it stopped reporting last year. Our historical series has been updated to reflect this, along with new information from other central banks.

Selling was again much more modest by comparison. The Central Bank of Uzbekistan (-15t) and the National Bank of Kazakhstan (-20t) were the largest sellers of gold during the quarter. As we have noted previously, it is not uncommon for central banks that purchase gold from domestic sources – as both Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan do – to be frequent sellers of gold. Cambodia (-10t), UAE (-1t) and Tajikistan (-1t) were the other notable sellers. Croatia reported a 2t reduction in its gold holdings in January but this was a transfer to the European Central Bank – which is required of all countries joining the euro area – and, as such, it does not represent a decline in the global universe of official sector gold. 


Net purchases have heavily outweighed sales year-to-date*

GDT Q1 2023: Central Banks Chart 2

Sources: IMF IFS, Respective central banks, World Gold Council; Disclaimer

*Data to 31 March 2023 where available. 

Our broad expectation for central bank demand in 2023 has, so far, been borne out. Central bank buying remains robust, with little to indicate that this will change in the short term. As such, we maintain our belief that purchases will continue to outweigh sales as we move into Q2. But the exact pace of this net buying is difficult to determine. There are no guarantees that the rapid start to the year will be sustained, nor should we discount the potential for surprise activity – in both purchases and sales.


  1. Our quarterly central bank demand series goes back to 2000.

  2. Country-level gross sales and purchases are taken from the most recent IMF IFS, or data reported directly by individual central banks where relevant. These may not match the net central bank demand figures published in Gold Demand Trends, as Metals Focus uses additional sources of information to obtain its estimates.

  3. Turkey official sector gold reserves are the sum of central bank owned gold and Treasury gold holdings. This is equivalent to gross gold reserves less all gold held at the central bank in relation to commercial sector gold policies, such as the Reserve Option Mechanism (ROM), collateral, deposits and swaps. Please follow this link for information on this methodology: www.gold.org/download/file/16208/Central-bank-stats-methodology-technical-adjustments.pdf