Posted on September 13, 2017
In the final post of our series on gold bullion reserves around the globe, JM Bullion is looking at the distribution of America’s gold reserves. As most precious metal enthusiasts and many in the public at large are aware, the vast majority of the United States’ gold bullion reserves are held in what is known as deep storage at the primary gold bullion depository at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
While Fort Knox may hold the largest reserve of gold bullion, it is not the only place in America that the nation stores its valuable gold assets. Just how much does the US have? Well, we covered that last week in brief, but here’s a few more details from the Bureau of the Fiscal Service, which is part of the US Department of the Treasury (June 30, 2017 report):
The United States spreads its gold reserves out across the US Mint system and the Federal Reserve, with gold bars, coins, certificates, and those “miscellaneous” items held at varying locations across the country. Let’s walkthrough the locations of US gold deposits by amount, from greatest to least.
Constructed starting in 1936, Fort Knox is the most secure of the United States Bullion Depositories. Located within the United States Army Post of Fort Knox in Kentucky on land granted to the government by the army, the facility has multiple layers of security. Positioned within an active army post, the United States Army’s Military Police are the first line of defense on site, with the United States Mint Police guarding the actual grounds of the Fort Knox Bullion Depository.
The bullion vaults at Fort Knox are located deep underground and are lined by granite walls, with a protective blast-proof door that weighs 20 tons. Of the total 261.49 million Fine Troy ounces of gold the United States possesses, the depository at Fort Knox holds 147,341,858.382 Fine Troy ounces of gold bullion bars.
Constructed in 1937, the mint building now known as the West Point Mint was originally built as the West Point Bullion Depository. At one point in its history, West Point held the highest concentration of silver at any US Mint location. In fact, it held so much silver bullion in its vaults at one point that it was known as the “Fort Knox of silver.” As of 1988, the West Point location has been an official branch of the United States Mint, but that doesn’t mean coining is its only role.
The West Point Mint’s bullion vaults are located within a building that was originally constructed as a one-story structure with reinforced concrete and four active turrets at the corners, which are still used in the building’s active security. Like Fort Knox, the West Point Mint depository is located near a US Military installation. In this case, the vaunted United States Military Academy is located just to the south of the West Point Mint.
Inside the vaults at West Point, the United States Mint keeps its second highest concentration of gold bullion bars in the national reserve. There is a total of 54,067,331.379 Fine Troy ounces of gold stored at West Point.
Like the West Point Mint, the Denver Mint started life as a facility with a different purpose. The original facility in Denver was established by an Act of Congress in 1862, with a United States Mint at Denver opened in late 1863. This original facility was a United States Assay Office, and it spent the majority of its early decades refining gold from the gold rushes of Pikes Peak and other locations in Colorado.
The modern building that houses the Denver Mint was built in 1897, and though the Denver location had been minting coins as time progressed, it was still not an official branch mint of the United States Mint system until 1906. The Denver Mint struck its first official coins as a US Mint branch facility on February 1st of that year, and today is the single largest producer of coins in the world, striking predominantly circulation US currency.
Another role of the Denver Mint is to serve as a storage location for US gold bullion reserves. In total, the vaults in Denver hold 43,853,707.279 Fine Troy ounces of US gold. Together with Fort Knox and West Point, the Denver Mint helps to store the entirety of US Mint-held gold bullion in deep storage.
The three facilities mentioned above hold a total of 245.262 million Fine Troy ounces of US gold, all in the form of gold bars. However, the United States Mint also holds onto what is known as “working stock” gold for the Treasury at various locations. Between gold coins, blanks, and other “miscellaneous” gold items, the US Mint holds an additional 2,783,218,656 Fine Troy ounces of gold, bringing the total of US Mint-held gold up to 248,046,115.696 Fine Troy ounces.
A smaller portion of the US gold bullion reserves are held by the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States. In this case, gold bars and gold coins are held by the Federal Reserve Bank at its massive New York location. Among the many financial services of the Fed is to provide central banks, governments, and official international organizations with gold storage. You’ll recall from our blog last week that Germany just completed a partial repatriation of its gold bullion reserves from the New York Federal Reserve Bank vaults, leaving some in place.
The gold vault in the New York Federal Reserve Bank is located in the basement and was built during original construction of the building back in the 1920s. The gold bullion reserves and coins held here are not property of the New York location or the Fed system, but rather is held here in guardianship on behalf of account holders such as the US government, foreign governments, and other central banks. The Fed does not hold individual or private sector gold in these vaults.
The New York branch location of the Fed was once a hub of gold bullion holdings immediately after World War II and during the Cold War, holding upwards of 12,000 tons of monetary gold. Those vaults, by the weigh, are situated on the bedrock of Manhattan Island, set 80 feet below street level and 50 feet below sea level.
Today, the total amount of gold held at the New York branch’s vault is 13,452,810.534 Fine Troy ounces of gold. Of that total in Fine Troy ounces of gold:
That wraps up our series on US and global gold bullion reserves. Stay tuned for more exciting and informative blog posts in the weeks ahead, and as always you can reach out to us on Facebook. Have a topic you’d like us to look into and cover in the blog? Give us your opinions via Facebook and we’ll run with them!