Technology

Gold Demand Trends Q2 2018

1 August, 2018

Technology

Gold used in technology grows further, driven by wireless applications

  • Electronics demand grew 3% on a yearly basis, underpinned by strong demand from memory, wireless and printed circuit board (PCB) sectors
  • The outlook is bright as ongoing electrification will help to bolster established sources of demand 
Tonnes Q2'17 Q2'18 YoY
Technology 81.5 83.3 2%
Electronics 64.4 66.2 3%
Other Industrial 12.8 12.9 1%
Dentistry 4.3 4.2 -4%

Gold used in technology grew 2% to 83.3t in Q2, the seventh quarter of undisrupted y-o-y growth. This uptick was again driven by strong electronics demand, particularly in the wireless and memory sectors, which defied the traditional summer lull.

Electronics

Gold used in electronics grew 3% y-o-y to 66.2t in Q2. Demand in the wireless sector enjoyed some 8-12% growth y-o-y, bucking the traditional slow season for smartphone sales. This was driven by strong demand from power amplifiers used in 5G infrastructure and 3D sensors in VR gaming systems and automobiles. In fact, this very strong demand for 3D sensors is not currently being met by supply, boding well for the short to mid-term.

The LED sector once again lagged other technologyrelated areas of demand for gold. Gold volumes were 5-8% lower y-o-y, primarily due to ongoing cost-driven substitution by silver in the high-end OLED market.1

In the memory sector, market dynamics remain positive for gold usage. Increasing output of NAND has driven prices down, and with major manufacturers such as Samsung and SK Hynix ramping up capacity over the coming couple of years, NAND flash prices are forecast to cool further. This should drive wider adoption of solid-state drives in notebooks, thereby supporting gold volumes. DRAM continued to benefit from strong demand, particularly in the server market, which has been boosted by healthy demand for big data and cloud services.

The strong server market also supported demand for PCBs. Together with ongoing growth in the automotive industry and 5G infrastructure deployment, gold used in PCBs was estimated to be 2-5% higher y-o-y.

Barring a 1.8% y-o-y decline in India (to 3.3t), the other countries monitored have registered strong growth. The traditional technology hubs – Mainland China/HK and South Korea – have once again topped the list with volumes of 18.4t (+5.1%) and 6.7t (+5%) respectively. This was followed by the US, which grew 3.0% y-o-y to 14.7t.

Other Industrial & dentistry

Dental demand continued it’s slow but steady decline, recording a 4% fall y-o-y. Other industrial usage of gold was broadly flat, but R&D efforts in developing new uses for gold continue apace.2 Johnson Matthey’s newly commercialised gold catalyst is now in the final stages of testing: more information about this particular technology can be read in the July issue of Gold Investor here.

Footnotes

  1. Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) panels are thinner and more flexible than LCD displays; they produce a high-contrast picture on screen, and are more efficient and eco-friendly. 

  2. This category of demand includes gold used in the production of compounds, such as Gold Potassium Cyanide, for electro-plating in industrial applications as well as in the production of gold-plated jewellery and other decorative items such as gold thread. India accounts for the bulk of demand in this category. 

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