Lots of fake gold shows up in Hong Kong


By Robert Cookson
Financial Times, London
Thursday, December 2, 2010


HONG KONG -- Hong Kong goldsmiths have been sold hundreds of ounces of fake gold this year in one of the most sophisticated scams to hit the Chinese territory's gold market in decades.

Industry executives say the scam -- while not massive and hitting only the retail sector -- uncloaks the increasingly elaborate gold swindles perpetrated by criminals in Asia as bullion prices soar to record highs of $1,400 a troy ounce.

The counterfeits have shocked Hong Kong's gold community not because of the amount involved but because of their sophistication.

... Dispatch continues below ...


Sona Drills 85.4g Gold/Ton Over 4 Metres at Elizabeth Gold Deposit, Extending the Mineralization of the Southwest Vein on the Property

Company Press Release, October 27, 2010

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Sona Resources Corp. reports on five drillling holes in the third round of assay results from the recently completed drill program at its 100 percent-owned Elizabeth Gold Deposit Property in the Lillooet Mining District of southern British Columbia. Highlights from the diamond drilling include:

-- Hole E10-66 intersected 17.4g gold/ton over 1.54 metres.

-- Hole E10-67 intersected 96.4g gold/ton over 2.5 metres, including one assay interval of 383g of gold/ton over 0.5 metres.

-- Hole E10-69 intersected 85.4g gold/ton over 4.03 metres, including one assay interval of 230g gold/ton over 1 metre.

Four drill holes, E10-66 to E10-69, targeted the southwestern end of the Southwest Vein, and three of the holes have expanded the mineralized zone in that direction. The Southwest Vein gold mineralization has now been intersected over a strike length of 325 metres, with the deepest hole drilled less than 200 metres from surface.

"The assay results from the Southwest Zone quartz vein continue to be extremely positive," says John P. Thompson, Sona's president and CEO. "We are expanding the Southwest Vein, and this high-grade gold mineralization remains wide open down dip and along strike to the southwest."

For the company's full press release, please visit:


"It's a very good fake," said Haywood Cheung, president of the Chinese Gold & Silver Exchange Society, Hong Kong's century-old gold exchange, highlighting how criminals are developing new techniques to commit an age-old fraud.

Mr Cheung said he was aware of at least 200 ounces -- worth $280,000 -- of the fake gold that had been discovered by jewellers and pawn shops. But he estimated that 10 times that amount might have infiltrated the retail market. In comparison, the large gold bars held by central banks weigh 400 ounces and are worth nearly $560,000 each.

In one case, executives discovered a pure gold coating that masked a complex alloy with similar properties to gold. The fake gold included a significant amount of bullion -- about 51 per cent of the total -- alloyed with seven other metals: osmium, iridium, ruthenium, copper, nickel, iron, and rhodium.

The complex nature of the fakes suggest they were produced by a metalsmith with sophisticated equipment and extensive knowledge of metallurgical engineering.

Even Luk Fook Group, one of Hong Kong's biggest jewellers, was tricked into buying $11,500 worth of fake gold this summer before putting its stores on alert. "This was the biggest hit ever," said Paul Law, executive director of the firm.

In the past, counterfeit gold in Hong Kong and the rest of Asia was either rough and easy to detect, even to the naked eye, or involved gold-plated tungsten, a metal with a similar density to gold, but which traders and jewellers can easily identify.

The complexity of the latest batch of fake gold would have reduced the profitability of the scam, since it used a significant amount of bullion, and because iridium and osmium are expensive.

In most cases, the fakes passed basic scrutiny, only to be revealed later by more sophisticated tests involving high temperatures and chemicals.

Industry executives stressed that the scam targeted the street-level sale of scrap gold to jewellers. Mr Cheung said none of the fake gold had infiltrated the much more bigger market for gold bars, which as is protected by more rigorous controls.

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Prophecy Drills 71.17 Metres of 0.52% NiEq
(0.310 % Nickel 0.466 g/t PGMs +Au and 0.223% Copper)
from surface at Wellgreen Project in the Yukon

Prophecy Resource Corp. (TSX-V: PCY) reports that it has received additional assays results from its 100-percent-owned Wellgreen PGM Ni-Cu property in the Yukon, Canada. Diamond drill holes WS10-179 to WS10-182 were drilled during the summer of 2010 by Northern Platinum (which merged with Prophecy on September 23, 2010). WS10-183 was drilled by Prophecy in October 2010. Highlights from the newly received assays include 71.17 metres from surface of 0.52 percent NiEq (0.310 percent nickel, 0.466 g/t PGMs + Au, and 0.233 percent copper) and ended in mineralization. For more drill highlights, please visit: