WTC wreckage guards buried treasure of COMEX gold
By Alden Bentley
NEW YORK, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Nearly 12 tonnes of gold
appears to be buried under mountains of debris from
New York City's destroyed twin towers, where experts
said it was securely out of reach of treasure hunters,
looters and, for now, even the bullion trading
The bars, worth about $106 million, were stored in an
underground warehouse near the World Trade Center and
held on behalf of the COMEX metals trading division of
the New York Mercantile Exchange.
``It's probably safer than it's ever been. It's
probably buried under 107 stories of rubble,'' said
Jonathan Potts, president at FideliTrade Inc, the
Wilmington Del.-based parent of the Delaware
Depository Service Co., an official COMEX warehouse
The gold is held in the vaults of ScotiaMocatta, the
metals and bullion trading division of Canada's Bank
of Nova Scotia (Toronto:BNS.TO - news) and one of the
two official depositories that hold gold for delivery
against futures contracts traded at the
A spokeswoman for NYMEX, which is still shuttered, had
no comment on COMEX's warehoused gold.
According to COMEX data published by Reuters Monday
night, before two hijacked aircraft demolished the
Manhattan landmarks and symbols of New York's
financial might, there were 379,036 Troy ounces or
about 3,800 bars of 100 ounces each held in
safe-keeping for the exchange by ScotiaMocatta.
``The bars are still there. Obviously, they are going
to be able to dig them out -- unless they melted and
disappeared,'' speculated one dealer at a precious
metals trading firm in New York.
Larry Scott, global head of ScotiaMocatta in Toronto,
told Reuters by telephone that for security reasons he
could not discuss the location of precious metals on
deposit with the firm.
``All our staff that work in the depository are safe
and well,'' said Scott, "Operations are obviously not
normal, but we have no concerns at this time, either
security or financial.
``Everything is not normal, but everything's OK,'' he
Another 413,134 ounces of COMEX gold is in the storage
facility of HSBC Bank USA, located far from the
HSBC would not comment on its storage facility.
Experts said the quantity buried downtown amounts to
about 2 percent of the 600-tonne-a-day global bullion
market. There would probably be little long-term
disruption in physical trade if it remained
temporarily unavailable for shipment, they said, even
if the week's turmoil causes more safe-haven buying of
``This is a futures market,'' Scott said. ``The big
movements of physical metal take place at the Bank of
England and the Federal Reserve. It's trivial next to
the rest of the market.''
In London bullion trade Thursday, spot gold ended at
$280.00/$282.00 an ounce, up from London's close
Wednesday at $279.00/$281.00. Volumes remained thin as
dealers stayed on the sidelines, after pushing bullion
sharply higher Tuesday in a spasm of flight-to-quality
The COMEX, which also trades futures and options in
silver, copper and aluminum, has been closed since
Tuesday but NYMEX is working on getting its off-hours
ACCESS trading system running on the Internet by later
Potts said that metal could be delivered from
alternative facilities at refiners elsewhere in the
United States. Any remelting into the 100-ounce bars
of 99.5 percent pure gold acceptable for COMEX
delivery specifications would take a bit of time.
``There could be some potential squeeze on some
physical products,'' Potts said. ``I don't believe
it's going to be necessarily dramatic.''
``If there are settlements that are getting delayed
because that metal was destined to come out of that
facility, I'm sure they are coming out of alternative
The COMEX trading floor, located at One North End
Avenue is in lower Manhattan. The NYMEX has said its
facilities were largely undamaged by the collapse of
the nearby towers.