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Technology Sector Has an Increasing Appetite for Gold

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According to the World Gold Council, overall global demand for gold was soft in the first quarter of this year. But demand in the technology sector was particularly strong, marking its sixth consecutive quarterly gain.

Overall, demand for gold in technology and industry increased 4% to 82 tons year-on-year. 

Gold needed for the production of computers and electronics generates the most industrial demand. It grew 5% year-on-year to 65.3 tons in Q1 2018. Sustained demand for gold bonding wire, as well as for gold used in wireless and Printed Circuit Board (PCB) served as a primary driver.

The amount of gold used in bonding wire increased by about 5% as memory chip makers expanded capacity.

At least four chip makers opened new factories in China and all are expected to reach commercial operation by the second half of 2018. These additional outputs of DRAM and NAND memory chips will fulfil a strong appetite for cloud storage and computer graphic cards used in cryptocurrency mining infrastructure.”

The biggest increase in demand for gold came in the wireless sector. The WGC estimates it increased between 20 and 30% year-on-year in the first quarter. The expansion of 5G networks is helping drive this demand. Verizon plans to roll out 5G to five US cities this year. China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea have also announced plans to expand their 5G networks.

The inclusion of vertical-cavity service-emitting lasers (VCSEL) for 3D sensors and gesture recognition in smartphones also pushed demand for gold higher. VCSEL is a type of semiconductor-based laser diode that emits a highly efficient optical beam vertically from its top surface.

As we reported last month, some of the most amazing tech developments utilizing the gold have been in the field of medicine. Gold nanoparticles are being used to treat cancer and to help diagnose other diseases.

Gold may even help restore eyesight. According to a report in Live Science, researchers are developing an artificial retina made of organic ink and gold.

The new device is an extremely thin sheet of organic crystal pigments, which are widely used in printing ink, cosmetics and tattoos. When these pigments are arranged in a particular layered geometry, the crystals can absorb light and convert it to electric signals, just like the light-sensitive cells — called photoreceptors — in the eye’s retina and make vision possible.”

We generally think of gold as an investment as well as money, but it is increasingly being used in technology and industry. Demand for gold in the technology sector has been growing since 2016 and that growth is continuing to accelerate due to new innovations. Increased demand in these sectors will likely put upward pressure on overall demand for gold in the future. The amount of gold used in technology was roughly equal to the amount purchased by central banks between 2010 and 2016. This fundamental driver of demand will only increase the overall value of the yellow metal.


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