Answers to the most common enquiries about the market and the LBMA.
LBMA are often asked questions by either members of the Association or the general public. A compilation of the most Frequently Asked Questions are available here, which have been categorised by subject into four main sections.
- Which types of companies can join LBMA?
LBMA's Membership comprises 143 companies in more than 30 countries across our four Membership classes: Full Member; Marking Making Member; Exchange Affiliate Member; and Associates. The first three classes are seen Members, being those who subscribe to the Memorandum of Association. Associates are not Members but do have an affiliation with LBMA.
All companies within the Membership must be active in areas that are closely related to the London Bullion Market. These activities include trading, broking, shipping and storage, mining and refining, inspection and assaying and research. Please note, individuals cannot become Members or Associates.
- Who can become an Exchange Affiliate Member?
Exchange Affiliate Members must be companies operating Trading Exchanges. Such companies must offering Exchange platforms services upon and through which Precious Metals are traded and/or settled and cleared.
- Who can become a Full Member?
Members must be companies or organisations which are actively involved in the London Bullion Market. For entities which trade, this means trading gold or silver bullion or related derivatives such as forwards and options in the loco London market. Members also include fabricators, brokers, refiners and shippers. A number of Members have been reclassified as Market Makers.
- Who can become a Market Making Member?
Market Maker Membership is open to existing Full Members. Market Making Members are consistently willing to quote prices and enter into transactions, as principal, for the purchase and sale of gold, silver, platinum and/or palladium for spot or for forward settlement or of options on gold, silver, platinum and/or palladium in the London Bullion Market, at prices determined by it generally throughout recognised working hours each business day.
- How can a company become a Market Making Member?
Any applicant wishing to be classified as a Market Making Member must first be a Full Member in order to be eligible to apply for re-classification. The Member will need to undergo a probationary period of approximately three months, during which time it must provide two-way price quotes to the current Market Making Members. Current Market Makers will then choose to recommend the entity’s application for Market Making status to the ExCom if satisfied with its service.
- Can a company not currently within LBMA Membership apply to become a Market Making Member?
It is most unlikely that LBMA would accept an application to become a Market Making Member from a company not within LBMA Membership. The normal procedure is for a company to first become a Member and to apply for reclassification.
- What does being actively involved in the London Bullion Market entail - must it involve trading?
These activities include trading, broking, shipping and storage, mining, refining, inspection and assaying and research. For companies trading bullion and derivatives, this means trading bullion or related derivatives, such as forwards and options, in the loco London market with at least three existing Members.
- Will my company have to report trades into LBMA Trade Data?
All Members who trade any of the Reportable Products (Spot; Forward; Options; Swaps; Leases/Loans/Deposits), above the de minimis level must report into LBMA Trade Data, the trade transparency and reporting service for the London Bullion Market. This obligation is subject to any other conflicting commitments, for example client contractual obligations. Failure to do so may lead to Enforcement action as set out in the LBMA Rulebook.
- Who can apply to be an Associate?
The Associate category includes many different types of market participants. For instance, Associates may be traders in other markets. If so, they must have bullion-based relationships with LBMA Members. Alternatively, Associates may be companies whose activities are judged to be relevant to the London Bullion Market, such as inspection, assaying and consultancy.
- What are the differences between a Member and an Associate?
Members enjoy the ability to vote during LBMA’s AGM, however Associates do not have voting rights. Associates also have a limited ability to sponsor other Membership applications. Associates are not considered to be Members of the London Bullion Market by HMRC therefore cannot trade under the terms of the Terminal Markets Order. Refiners must have Good Delivery status before they can become an Associate.
- How much does Membership cost?
Members and Associates pay a non-refundable application fee of £1,000. On acceptance of Membership, an annual subscription is payable of £16,400 for Market Making Members, £8,400 for Full Members and Exchange Affiliate Members, and £5,250 for Associates.
- What Due Diligence does LBMA conduct as part of any Membership application?
LBMA performs checks on each Member and Associate as per its Due Diligence Policy. Such checks are performed throughout the application process and on an ongoing basis upon acceptance of Membership.
- Should my company apply to be a Member or an Associate?
There are some general guidelines:
- UK financial institutions companies and banks with a branch located in the UK, whether authorised by the FCA or passported in by the FCA (originally authorised elsewhere within the EU or EEA) must apply to become Members.
- In most cases, banks without a branch in the UK would apply as Associates. In exceptional circumstances, LBMA may admit such banks as Members.
- Dealers, producers and refiners located outside the UK should apply as Associates.
- Companies providing services to the London Bullion Market, such as assaying or consultancy, should apply as Associates.
Generally, UK-based companies that are directly involved in the London Bullion Market are expected to apply to become Members, though refiners based in the UK may be accepted as Associates at the Board's discretion..
- How does attestation for applications work?
Applicants must provide three Members as attesters to support their application. The attesters must be current Members with whom the Applicant has had a bullion-based relationship for at least one year. The attesters must each provide a letter of recommendation, confirming the nature and duration of their bullion-based relationship with the Applicant. We strongly advise that you check with the companies concerned that they are willing to support your application before including them on the application form.
- Who can act as an attester to an application?
Applicants must provide three LBMA Members as attesters to support their application. The attesters must be current LBMA Members with whom your company has a bullion-based relationship for at least one year. The attesters must provide a letter of recommendation, confirming the nature and duration of their bullion-based relationship with the Applicant. You can find the list of attesters on the MyLBMA portal alongside additional details regarding the minimum level of attestation required, specific to your company type.
- Can a company apply with fewer than three attesters?
No - applicants must be able to name three companies as attesters to be considered.
- What steps should a Member or Associate take if there are changes within its business?
Members or Associates must promptly notify LBMA if there has been a change in:
- Registered address;
- Ownership or majority shareholding and in particular where any person becomes or ceases to be, or proposes to become or cease to be, [a controller] ;
- Corporate/partnership structure;
- LBMA primary contact;
- Any permission(s) or relevant exclusion(s) used by such person to carry on a regulated activity by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (or an equivalent regulator) – for example if there has been a variation or cancellation of a permission; or
- Any other particulars provided in the original application.
This notification must be in writing addressed to the Chief Executive and sent to the LBMA Office.
- What should a company do if it wishes to resign its membership?
A Member or Associate may at any time resign from LBMA by giving notice in writing to LBMA and shall thereupon cease to be a Member or cease to have Associate status. The annual subscription fee shall be payable in full for the year during which such resignation or termination of Membership or Associateship occurs. If the Member or Associate has already paid its annual subscription fees, the Member or Associate shall not be entitled to recover such payment or any part thereof from LBMA.
- Where can I get further information?
For more information about joining LBMA, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- How much are the Good Delivery annual maintenance fees?
From 2015, the Good Delivery annual maintenance fees are as follows:
- Gold or Silver (1 metal) - £8,200
- Gold and Silver (2 metals) - £12,300
- What was the reason for the increase in fees?
During the past decade there is been a significant increase in Good Delivery associated initiatives including: Pro-active Monitoring, Proficiency Testing, Certified Reference Materials and Regulatory work associated with REACH and Responsible Gold. The substantial increase in fees will enable the LBMA to continue to provide the necessary level of support to the GDL Refiners operating in the London Market into the future.
- How often are the fees reviewed?
Going forward, fees will be reviewed annually.
- Are bars other than standard 400 ounces for gold and 1,000 ounces for silver that have been produced by a refiner on the Good Delivery List also considered as being London Good Delivery?
The weight of bars must fall within the range specified in the Good Delivery Rules. Bars such as kilobars, 100-ounce and smaller bars are not acceptable in the London wholesale market, (though they may be in other markets or exchanges). For further details on kilobars produced by GDL refiners visit www.goldbarsworldwide.com.
- How long must a refiner be in business before it is eligible to apply for Good Delivery status?
The company should have been in business for five years and the refinery should have an operating history of three years.
- Is there a minimum requirement for a company's net worth in order to apply for Good Delivery?
Yes, It should be at least the equivalent of £15 million.
- What is the average length of time from the submission of an application to achieving Good Delivery status?
This varies depending on how quickly the company is able to provide any additional information that may have been missing from its initial application and how long it takes to provide the sample bars following successful completion of the assay test.
Delays may also be encountered in the shipping of samples and the payment of fees, which will lengthen the overall application procedure. The minimum timescale from the submission of a complete application to accreditation is approximately four months but an average of approximately 6 months is more likely.
- What is the Former List?
The Former Lists include:
- Refiners who no longer produce bars at the locations listed;
- Refiners whose bars are no longer accepted as Good Delivery by the London Bullion market;
- Bars whose brand mark has been changed (in which case the current brand mark is described in the Current Gold or Silver List).
- Assayer-only companies which were previously granted Good Delivery status. Refiners are now expected to have the ability to assay as well as refine to the required standard.
However, bars produced by these refiners prior to their transfer to this list on the date given below continue to be acceptable as Good Delivery. The LBMA reserves the right to de-list bars after an appropriate period of time in cases where production has ceased.
- What are some of the reasons that a refiner might be transferred to the Former List?
There are a number of separate cases, which can relate either to a particular bar (as determined by its dimensions and/or marks) or to a particular refinery. A refinery may be transferred to the Former List if:
- Its ownership has changed and the new owners are unable to provide satisfactory evidence of their bona fides
- It requests to be removed (for instance because it does not wish to pay the annual maintenance fee)
- It ceases production
- Its tangible net worth falls consistently below the LBMA minimum of £15 million
- Its production of refined metal falls consistently below the minima specified by the LBMA (10 tonnes pa for gold and 50 tonnes pa for silver)
- It fails to maintain the technical standards shown in the LBMA's Good Delivery Rules
- It does not respond adequately to justifiable customer complaints
- A previously registered bar (as defined by its dimensions and marks) may be transferred to the Former List for one or more
of the reasons listed below, while the refiner continues to be listed but with a modified bar:
- a. The form or dimensions of the bar do not meet current requirements
- b. The marks on the bars have been modified. For instance, a company may change from a portrait to a landscape format. Other reasons for such changes include rebranding by the company (e.g. using a new logo) or a change of ownership (i.e. a new name).
- Once a refiner is transferred to the Former List, are the bars that it produced while on the Good Delivery List still considered Good Delivery?
- What steps might the LBMA take if it received complaints about the quality of bars produced by a refiner?
The LBMA would investigate the complaint, if necessary including an examination the bars and if the complaint appeared justified it would write to the refiner asking it to "stand behind" its bars by making appropriate restitution to the customer.
- What is the reason for the weight tolerance on Good Delivery silver bars?
The main reason for having a tolerance on the weight of Good Delivery bars is because in the overwhelming number of cases they are produced by being cast into open moulds.
This involves the caster pouring the molten metal from a ladle and judging essentially by eye when the mould is full.
The LBMA has never tried to enforce a totally uniform approach to the dimensions of Good Delivery bars. As long as the bars are within the range specified in the Good Delivery Rules, they are considered to be acceptable in principle. The idea behind the recommended range is the facilitation of manual handling (not just in the London vaults but also in the markets where bars are consumed) while at the same time minimising the number of operations involved in the refinery, the vault and at the point of consumption.
There are three ranges that could be mentioned:
(a) 500 to 1250 troy ounces
(b) 750 to 1100 troy ounces
(c) 900 to 1050 troy ounces
Range (a) was in force until 1999. It was then replaced by a range (b), the current range, because the lower limit of 500 would mean that many bars would have to be produced and processed for a given tonnage while the upper limit of 1250 gave bars which were dangerously heavy for manual handling. Although it is not mandatory, refiners are asked to produce bars within range (c) essentially because this facilitates the assembly of uniform pallets.
- Information on Bar Numbers for Russian and Uzbek Bars
The common approach adopted by LBMA Good Delivery refiners in Russia and Uzbekistan is to use a 4-digit bar number plus a 2-Cyrillic letter code (which changes with each resetting of the bar number to 0001) and a separate 4-digit year code. The combination of the company's brand mark, the two Cyrillic letter code and the 4-digit bar number provides a unique identifier for every bar.
Some London vaults have used the nearest Roman equivalent to the two Cyrillic characters as part of the bar number. These provide a unique identifier and such bar numbers will continue to be used as bars move within the London vaulting system.
Other vaults have ignored the Cyrillic letters when recording the bars in their information systems. This can result in the same 4-digit bar numbers appearing more than once in bar lists (though each of them has a different Cyrillic code).
In order to avoid this apparent duplication, LBMA vaults will, from February 2010, record such bars with an 8-10 digit bar number formed from the 4-digit year concatenated with the 4-digit bar number and the vault manager may also additionally include a maximum of two alpha characters being the Roman equivalent of the Cyrillic characters shown on the bar.
Occasionally older bars with Cyrillic letter codes but no year marks arrive in London. In such cases, the receiving vault should use the nearest Roman equivalent to the Cyrillic characters as the first characters of the bar number.
- Information on serial numbers for Russian Bars
Since January 2018, gold and silver bars can be marked with up to five significant figures, however, it must have a point or comma delimiter to avoid confusion and potential ambiguous additions. The weight list would only include four significant figures.
- What are the clearing statistics?
These are the net volume of loco London gold and silver transfers settled between clearing members of the LBMA.
- What is included in the statistics?
Loco London transfers from one party in a clearing member's books to another party in the same clearing member's books or in the books of another clearing member. They also include physical transfers and shipments by clearing members and transfers over clearing members' accounts at the Bank of England. Excluded from the statistics are allocated and unallocated balance transfers where the sole purpose is for overnight credit and physical movements arranged by clearers in locations other than London.
- What is the frequency of the statistics?
They are compiled monthly and represent the average amount of metal transferred on average each day measured in millions of troy ounces.
- Do the LBMA publish any other statistics on clearing?
The LBMA also publish the average value of transfers measured in US $, using the monthly average London pm fixing price for gold and the average London fixing price for silver. The value of gold transfers are measured in billions of US dollars and the value of silver in millions of US dollars. The LBMA also publish the average number of gold and silver transfers recorded each day.
- Who are the clearing members of the LBMA?
There are five members of the LBMA who offer clearing services, who collectively have formed a company called the London Precious Metals Clearing Limited (LPMCL). They are The Bank of Nova Scotia-ScotiaMocatta, HSBC, ICBC Standard Bank, JP Morgan Chase and UBS AG.
- Who accredits companies to provide vaulting services to the London bullion market?
The LBMA does not accredit institutions to provide vaulting services to the London bullion market. Instead the London Precious Metal Clearing Limited (LPMCL) provides formal recognition of companies to provide vaulting services.
- Who provides vaulting services for the London bullion market?
Below is a list of vaulting companies which are acceptable to individual LPMCL Members. This summary is not intended to imply that LPMCL has approved such vaults. Vaults must have LBMA Approved Weigher status:
- Bank of England
- ICBC Standard
- JP Morgan
- Loomis International
- Malca Amit
- Does a current listed refiner have to use an auditing body on the LBMA's Approved Service Provider list?
- Are there any costs associated with becoming an Approved Service Provider?
Yes, Auditors are required to pay £2,000 per annum to be listed as an Approved Service Provider.
- What competencies and skills does an Auditor need to fulfil in order to become an Approved Service Provider?
Please refer to Auditor Skills and Competencies - Table 6; Third Party Audit Guidance.
- How does the LBMA Responsible Gold and Silver Guidance affect potential GDL applicants?
Any Refiner applying to be an LBMA Good Delivery accredited Gold or Silver Refiner is required to implement the LBMA Responsible Gold or Silver Guidance and pass an audit prior to becoming a member of the Good Delivery List. All GDL Applicants must use an auditor on the LBMA's Approved Service Provider List. Please click here to see the current list in the LBMA Toolkit.
- What is the procedure for becoming an Approved Service Provider?
Once you have submitted your application form, it can take approximately eight weeks to receive a response. This is because the LBMA Physical Committee makes the final decision and they have to review your application at their monthly meetings. We will email the main contact who submitted the application to let them know outcome. If you are successful, the title of your auditing body and main contact's details will be added to our Approved Service Provider list.
- What is the annual review procedure for Approved Service Providers?
The Physical Committee will review the Approved Service Provider list on an annual basis. The LBMA Executive will ask the listed auditing bodies if anything has changed within their organisation or operations since their original application. If nothing has changed, no action is required. Supporting evidence in the form of documentation will be required if substantial changes have been made. The Physical Committee will then decide if the auditing body can remain on the list.
- Where can I find templates for audits based on ISO 19011:2011?
Refiner's Summary Report - Appendix 8; Third Party Audit Guidance.
- Where can I find templates for audits based on ISAE 3000?
- Where a refiner has been removed from the Good Delivery List due to failure to adhere to the LBMA Responsible Gold or Silver Guidance, when are they able to re apply for Good Delivery Status?
A refiner has to wait five years before submitting their application.
- Is the LBMA Toolkit compulsory for Responsible Gold and Silver Guidance audits?
The LBMA Toolkit is intended for use as a guide to how refiners may implement the Responsible Gold or Silver Guidance. Refiners may adopt their own documentation and checklists as part of their controls and procedures.
- Does LBMA provide a list of high risk countries?
No. It is up to refiners to establish their own risk assessments and investigations according to their activities.
- What does it mean if the refiner’s certificate has expired, but their name still appears on the Current Gold List?
If a refiner’s certification appears to be expired but they remain on the Gold Current List, the refiner’s audit is in progress. They remain Good Delivery.
- What happens once an audit report has been submitted? How long does it take to become accredited?
Once your audit report has been received, it can take up to three weeks before the Compliance Review Panel provides an official response. A member of the Panel may get in touch during that time with any follow up questions. It can take an additional ten days before you receive your certificate. This process will take longer if your audit requires a Corrective Action Plan to be submitted.
- We are experiencing delays with submitting the audit report. What will happen to our accreditation?
Deadline extensions may be granted under exceptional circumstances. You are advised to get in touch with LBMA as quickly as possible in advance of the deadline.
- How does mutual recognition of third party refiner due diligence audits work?
From 2017, Good Delivery List refiners will be required to perform audits against the Responsible Gold or Silver Guidance. Supporting documentation from audits under other industry schemes may be submitted as part of the refiner’s audit deliverables.