Central Banks

31 October, 2023

Robust central bank demand in Q3; hits year-to-date record 

  • Central banks collectively bought 337t in Q3, the second highest third quarter on record
  • Added to the record-breaking H1 total, y-t-d net purchases now stand at 800t
  • Looking ahead, central bank demand is on course for another strong annual total.
Tonnes Q3'22 Q3'23   y/y change
Central banks & others 459.0 337.1 -27%

Source: Metals Focus, World Gold Council

Central bank demand for gold saw no let-up in Q3, building on the record-breaking first half of the year. Global official gold reserves rose by 337t, 120% higher q/q and the second highest third quarter total following Q3 2022.1 On a y-t-d basis, central banks have bought an astonishing net 800t, 14% higher than the same period last year.


Central bank demand has gone from strength to strength*

Central bank demand has gone from strength to strength*

Central bank demand has gone from strength to strength*
*Data to 30 September 2023. Source: Metals Focus, World Gold Council

Sources: Metals Focus, World Gold Council; Disclaimer

*Data to 30 September 2023.

The quarter featured sizable purchases by a small number of banks and support by more modest buying from a range of others. And in stark contrast to the previous quarter, sales were minimal.2

The People’s Bank of China (PBoC) regained the title of the largest buyer globally, increasing its gold reserves by 78t during the quarter. Since the start of the year, the PBoC has increased its gold holdings by 181t, to 2,192t (equivalent to 4% of total reserves).

The National Bank of Poland (NBP) continued its buying spree in Q3, adding a further 57t to the 48t it bought in Q2. This brings its y-t-d gold accumulation to 105t, in line with its previously stated aim of adding 100t to its gold reserves.3 But they may not stop there. In early October, NBP President Adam Glapiński stated: “This makes Poland a more credible country, we have a better standing in all ratings, we are a very serious partner and we will continue to buy gold. The dream is to reach 20 percent.”.4 For context, the NBP currently holds 334t of gold, equating to 11% of total reserves.

Turkey’s gold reserves recovered to 668t following purchases of 39t in Q3 as the central bank switched back to net buying following its heavy net sales in Q2.5 And while gold import quotas were reinstated in early August, so far there has been no repeat of sales into the local market to meet elevated demand.6 However, its gold reserves are still 12% lower than at the start of the year.

Beyond these large-scale buyers, eight more banks made purchases of at least a tonne during the quarter, highlighting the breadth of demand: India (9t), Uzbekistan (7t), the Czech Republic (6t) Singapore (4t), Qatar (3t), Russia (3t), the Philippines (2t) and the Kyrgyz Republic (1t). In early August, it was reported that Russia would recommence the buying of foreign currency and gold but no further information has been forthcoming on the size or timing of any future gold purchases.7

By comparison, sales were trivial. Kazakhstan (4t) was the only seller of note. As we have discussed in the past, it is not uncommon for central banks that purchase gold from domestic sources to be sellers of gold depending on market conditions.


Reported purchases in 2023 dominated by China, Poland and Singapore*

Reported purchases in 2023 dominated by China, Poland and Singapore*

Reported purchases in 2023 dominated by China, Poland and Singapore*
*Data to 30 September 2023 where available. Source: IMF IFS, respective central banks, World Gold Council

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

*Data to 30 September 2023 where available.

Also during the quarter, a Bloomberg report highlighted claims that the Central Bank of Bolivia had “monetised” 17t of its gold reserves between May and August. In May, new legislation was passed enabling the central bank to utilise its gold reserves to help its need for US dollars. If verified, the move would represent a 40% decline in its gold reserves, which stood at 43t at the end of April, the latest data available. But there is ambiguity as to the meaning of “monetise”; this blanket term could, for example, refer to outright sales or alternativley swap agreements. Separately, it was also reported that the central bank plans to buy 5t of local gold production in H2 2023, although this too requires confirmation.8 By way of context, new legislation was passed in May enabling the central bank to utilise its gold reserves to “optimise liquidity and/or performance of [the country’s] foreign reserves”. The law also included a provision for the central bank to buy gold locally. 

Taking stock and looking ahead, it now seems all but certain that central banks are on course for another colossal year of buying. The strength of buying has, to some degree, exceeded our expectations. While we were confident that central banks would remain net purchasers in 2022, we thought it unlikely that it would match last year's record buying volume. Should buying continue to be strong in Q4, the full year total could get closer than we anticipated. Nevertheless, the historically high level of buying in Q4 2022 may be difficult to top. For more, please see our Outlook section.


  1. Our quarterly demand series begins in 2000. Q2 central bank demand was revised higher to include the 30t purchase by Libya in June.

  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 and available. 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.

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