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Section:

S. Africa Mines Minister
Opposes IMF Gold Sales

By Gordon Bell
Reuters
Wednesday, February 9, 2005

http://www.reuters.co.za/locales/c_newsArticle.jsp?
type=topNews&localeKey=en_ZA&storyID=7577802

CAPE TOWN -- South African Mineral and Energy Affairs Minister
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said on Wednesday she opposed the idea of
selling International Monetary Fund gold, one of several proposals
to use its gold reserves for debt relief.

Mlambo-Ngcuka told Reuters at an African mining conference in Cape
Town that other minerals ministers at the event were concerned by
media reports on the proposals, and they would ask the IMF for
clarification.

"Obviously if what we see in the newspapers is a fact, we have
reasons to be concerned," she said. South Africa is the world's
biggest producer of gold, which is also an important export for
other countries on the continent.

Asked for her view on South African Finance Minister Trevor Manuel's
cautious backing of the gold sale proposals, along with suggestions
to revalue the IMF's reserves, Mlambo-Ngcuka replied: "I don't know
about that. I am not in favour of that."

Gold hit its lowest level for nearly four months on Tuesday as
reports of possible IMF bullion sales and a stronger dollar took
their toll. By 0945 GMT on Wednesday spot gold was trading at
$413.25/4.00 per ounce, above the $410.50 low hit the previous day.
It was quoted at $412.60/3.50 just ahead of the minister's comments.

"We are going to be looking at the latest intentions of the IMF re
gold sales," Mlambo Ngcuka said in a speech to the conference
earlier.

"We are going to be embarking on a coordinated approach to deal with
this issue and to again avoid this becoming another problem for gold
producers."

Finance ministers from the Group of Seven industrial nations said in
London on Saturday that IMF Managing Director Rodrigo Rato would
look at proposals to revalue or sell some of the Fund's gold
reserves to offer debt relief to the world's poorest countries.

South Africa's Manuel has urged a "rational approach" to the
proposals. In an interview with Reuters, he urged the arrangement of
a queuing system on any gold sales to ensure market stability.

The IMF holds 103.4 million ounces of gold, one of the biggest
stocks in the world. Under a 1971 agreement, most is valued at $40
to $50 an ounce, or about a tenth of current market prices.

Sandile Nogxina, South Africa's director general of minerals and
energy, told Reuters on Wednesday he was concerned about the impact
of any gold sales on prices.

"The sale of gold stock may have some negative effect on the gold
price ... so if they are going to do it I hope they are going to do
it in a manner that will not have an effect on the gold price," he
said.

"The ministers have a problem with the potential sale of gold," he
added.

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