Valcambi Refinery

Introduction

Valcambi Suisse is the world’s largest precious metals refinery with annual production capacity of 2,000 tonnes of precious metals[1]. The Valcambi refinery is located in Balerna in the south of the Canton of Ticino, adjacent to the Swiss – Italian border, and also very close to two of Switzerland’s other giant precious metals refineries, namely PAMP and Argor-Heraeus. Together these three refineries comprise a significant an important part of the Swiss gold market.

In July 2015, Valcambi was acquired by Indian company Rajesh Exports, the world’s largest manufacturer of gold jewellery. However the refinery is still operated by a Swiss management team, therefore it is business as usual.

Highlights

  • Valcambi, sometimes called Valcambi Suisse, is the world’s largest precious metals refinery. The refinery is located in Balerna, in the Swiss Canton of Ticino, near the Italian border

  • In July 2015, Valcambi was fully acquired by Indian gold company Rajesh Exports. Valcambi’s refinery is still run from Switzerland by a Swiss management team

  • Previous owners of the Valcambi refinery include Swiss bank Credit Suisse up to 2003, and US gold mining company Newmont Mining up to 2015

  • Valcambi produces a wide range of gold, silver and platinum / palladium investment bars, as well as the well-known Combibar, precious metal coins and medals, gold and silver grains, and semi finished products for the Swiss watch and luxury jewellery markets

  •  Valcambi’s wholesale bars are accredited for good delivery by the London Bullion Market Association, the London Platinum and Palladium Market, and are its bars are accepted for settlement on the world’s main gold and gold futures exchanges

History of Valcambi

Valcambi was established in Balerna, Ticino in May 1961 as Valori & Cambi SA[2]. The company’s name was changed to Valcambi SA in June 1967 by combining the Valori and Cambi names. The original shareholders were  ‘5 Swiss businessmen/entrepreneurs from Mendrisio”.

In 1967, Swiss bank Credit Suisse purchased a 50% shareholding interest in the Valcambi refinery, and then bought a further 30% shareholding in 1968, bringing its stake up to a controlling interest of 80%. In 1980, Credit Suisse bought the final 20% of the shares that it didn’t own, bringing it’s stake up to 100%.

In December 2003, US gold mining company Newmont Mining and a number of the original founders of Valcambi (known as the Swiss investor group) established a 50%-50% joint venture company called European Gold Refineries SA (EGR). Simultaneously, EGR acquired 100% of Valcambi SA from Credit Suisse[3].

In July 2007, Mitsubishi International Corporation (MIC) of Japan purchased a 6.55% shareholdings in EGR[4], leaving Newmont and the Swiss investor group with a shareholding of 46.725% each. In April 2008, Newmont raised its stake to 56.67% by buying from the investor group[5]. Later that year Mitsubishi sold its 6.55% shareholding to Newmont bringing Newmont’s stake up to 60%.

In July 2015, in order to acquire the Valcambi refinery, Rajesh Exports of India had to purchase European Gold Refineries SA (EGR), since EGR actually owned 100% of Valcambi SA. As a means of acquiring EGR, Rajesh Exports set up a Swiss acquisition vehicle called Global Gold Refineries AG, and registered it in the Canton of Lucerne[6]. The acquisition was partially financed by Rajesh Exports, and partially from a debt facility provided by Credit Suisse which has now been fully repaid[7]. For full details of the Rajesh Exports acquisition of Valcambi see BullionStar blog “Swiss Gold Refineries and the sale of Valcambi“.

Rajesh Exports was established in 1988, became India’s largest gold exporter in 1994, floated on the Indian stock market in 1995, and became the world’s largest gold jewellery manufacturer in 2003[8].

Organisational Structure

Valcambi’s Swiss refinery is owned and controlled by Valcambi SA. Valcambi SA is 100% owned by European Gold Refineries SA (EGR)[9]. EGR is fully owned by Global Gold Refineries AG. Valcambi is overseen by a board of directors which consists of the chairman of Global Gold Refineries AG, a Swiss national, and the CEO of Valcambi, also a Swiss national[10]. A management team, led by the CEO, oversees the day-to-day operation of the refinery[11].

Global Gold Refineries AG is 95% owned by REL Singapore Pte Ltd, and 5% owned by Rajesh Exports Ltd India[12]. REL Singapore is 100% owned by Rajesh Exports India, and was established primarily to execute international acquisitions as well as to source gold from mining companies internationally.

Rajesh Exports Limited (REL) is the world’s largest manufacturer of gold jewellery, and India’s biggest gold exporter. REL is a publicly traded company listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange[13], and is headquartered in Bangalore in the Indian state of Karnataka. Before the Valcambi acquisition, REL already had its own precious metals refinery in Uttarakhand, in the north of India that it established in 2013. This Uttarakhand refinery has a precious metals output capacity of 400 tonnes per annum. Combined with Valcambi Suisse, the two refineries have a combined output capacity of 2,400 tonnes of precious metals per annum.

Rajesh plans to upgrade this refinery and turn it a subsidiary of Valcambi and then apply for LBMA gold and silver accreditation for  the refinery.

The Valcambi Refinery

The Valcambi Suisse refinery in Balerna provides a range of services from assaying[14] to refining[15], to precious metals fabrication through to storage. According to its Sustainability Report published in 2013, Valcambi has an annual gold refining capacity of 1600 tonnes and a total annual precious metals refining capacity of 2000 tonnes. The Valcambi was the first refinery in the world to produce a minted gold bar, and its current refinery facility produces gold bars by a 100% automated robotic process[16].

Long and short-term insured storage of precious metals is provided at the Balerna refinery facility in high security vaults. This storage service is mainly for the institutional market such as financial institutions and gold-backed funds, and a relatively high threshold for minimum storage quantities applies[17].

Valcambi is also a member of the “Suisse des Fabricants et Commerçants de Métaux” (ASFCMP), i.e. the Swiss Association of Precious Metals Manufacturers and Traders Association[18].

Valcambi Bullion Products

Valcambi fabricates a wide range of cast and minted precious metals bars in gold and a smaller selection in silver, platinum and palladium[19]. Cast bars are produced in the following weights and sizes:

  • Gold: 20 grams, 50 grams, 100 grams[20], 250 grams, 500 grams, 1 kg, 1 oz, 400 oz, 5 tolas, 10 tolas, bars[21]. The tola is a traditional weight for precious metals in India
  • Silver: 1 kg and 5 kg cast silver bars[22]
  • Platinum and Palladium:  Good delivery ingots between 4 kg and 5 kg[23][24]

The minted bar range produced by Valcambi spans the following weights and sizes:

  • Gold: 1 gram, 2.5 grams, 5 grams, 10 grams, 20 grams, 50 grams, 100 grams, 250 grams, 500 grams, 1 kg, 1 oz[25]
  • Silver: 50 grams, 100 grams, 500 grams, 1 kg, 1 oz[26]
  • Platinum and Palladium: Same weights as the silver range above

The Valcambi SUISSE refinery stamp is officially described by the LBMA as “a rectangle enclosing CHI in a circle and ESSAYEUR FONDEUR. Brand mark is a diamond comprising four scalene triangles.

Valcambi also holds the licensing rights to produce the patented CombiBars for all international market outside of Germany and Austria. CombiBars are a series of miniture precious metals bars that are attached to each other in a grid formation but that allows the individual smaller bars to be detached individually. CombiBars were invented by and are patented by German precious metals refiner ESG Edelmetall-Service. In the German and Austrian markets the CombiBar is exclusively produced by another Germany precious metals refinery Heimerle + Meule. Combibars are produced in a number of sizes for example 50 grams, which consists of 50 * 1 gram individual bars[27][28].

The refinery also produces highly detailed coins and medals[29] and specialises in supply precious metal alloys in semi finished form to the Swiss luxury watch and jewellery sector[30].

 

References and Links

1.^ Valcambi at a glance http://www.valcambi.com/about-us/at-a-glance

2.^ Valcambi SA company register, Canton of Ticino http://ti.powernet.ch/webservices/inet/HRG/HRG.asmx/getHRGHTML?chnr=CH-524.3.000.427-6&amt=501&toBeModified=0&validOnly=0&lang=4&sort=

3.^ Newmont Mining 10-k filing with US SEC, December 2003, detailing 50% interest in European Gold Refineries SA and Valcambi SA https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1164727/000119312504042223/d10k.htm

4.^ Mitsubishi International Corporation (MIC) acquires 6.55% of European Gold Refineries (EGR) http://www.mitsubishicorp.com/us/en/pr/archive/2007/files/0000004017_file1.pdf

5.^ Newmont Mining form 10-k (June 2008) filed with US SEC detailing share purchases in European Gold Refineries (EGR) http://s1.q4cdn.com/259923520/files/doc_financials/quarterly/2008/SEC-NEM-1193125-08-156501-q2.pdf

6.^ Company registration document for Global Gold Refineries AG https://lu.chregister.ch/cr-portal/auszug/auszug.xhtml?uid=CHE-478.041.872

7.^ Rajesh Exports stock exchange announcement, repayment of debt facility to Credit Suisse used in acquisition of Valcambi https://rajeshindia-production.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/press_release/file/13/REL.pdf

8.^ History of Rajesh Exports http://www.rajeshindia.com/history

9.^ European Gold Refineries, company register, Canton of Ticino http://ti.powernet.ch/webservices/inet/HRG/HRG.asmx/getHRGPDF?chnr=CH-524.3.009.874-6&amt=501&toBeModified=0&validOnly=0&lang=4&sort=

10.^ Valcambi board of directors http://www.valcambi.com/about-us/organization/board-of-directors

11.^ Valcambi management http://www.valcambi.com/about-us/organization/management

12.^ Valcambi corporate ownership flowchart highlighting http://www.valcambi.com/about-us/corporate-structure/

13.^ Rajesh Exports stock quote on Bombay Stock Exchange http://www.bseindia.com/stock-share-price/rajesh-exports-ltd/rajeshexpo/531500

14.^ Valcambi refinery – assaying http://www.valcambi.com/services/assaying/

15.^ Valcambi refinery – refining http://www.valcambi.com/services/refining/

16.^ Valcambi refinery facts from Rajesh Exports website http://www.rajeshindia.com/refining-&-alloying

17.^ Valcambi refinery – precious metals storage http://www.valcambi.com/services/storage

18.^  Swiss Association of Precious Metals Manufacturers and Traders http://www.asfcmp.ch/en/our-members

19.^ Valcambi cast and minted bar catalogue, 2014 http://www.valcambi.com/fileadmin/media/valcambi/PDF_files/Product_Catalogue_2014.pdf

20.^ Valcambi cast gold bar 100 grams, BullionStar https://www.bullionstar.com/buy/product/gold_valcambi_cast_bar_100g

21.^ Valcambi cast gold bars http://www.valcambi.com/products-and-metals/cast-products/au/400-oz/good-delivery-gold-bar

22.^ Valcambi cast silver bars http://www.valcambi.com/products-and-metals/cast-products/ag/1000-g/good-delivery-silver-bar

23.^ Valcambi – cast platinum ingot http://www.valcambi.com/products-and-metals/cast-products/pt/1000-g/good-delivery-platinum-ingot

24.^ Valcambi – cast palladium ingot http://www.valcambi.com/products-and-metals/cast-products/pd/1000-oz/good-delivery-palladium-ingot

25.^ Valcambi minted gold bar range http://www.valcambi.com/products-and-metals/minted-bars/au/1000-g/1000-g-minted-gold-bar

26.^ Valcambi minted silver bar range http://www.valcambi.com/products-and-metals/minted-bars/ag/1000-g/1000-g-minted-silver-bar

27.^ CombiBar 50 grams, BullionStar https://www.bullionstar.com/buy/product/valcambi50gr_combibar

28.^ Valcambi Combibars http://www.valcambi.com/products-and-metals/combibarTM/au/50-x-1-g/50-x-1-g-gold-combibarTM

29.^ Coin and medal range – Valcambi http://www.valcambi.com/products/coins-medals/

30.^ Valcambi semi finished products http://www.valcambi.com/products/semi-finished-products