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Gold and silver buried in WTC

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By Simon English

Last Updated: 9:22pm BST 18/09/2001

GOLD and silver worth $240m (£170m) is buried under the debris that is all that remains of the World Trade Centre in Manhattan.

Rescue workers searching through the rubble will at some point come across 30m ounces of silver and almost 380,000 ounces of gold, though in what condition is not clear. The silver, worth around $128m, represents a third of the stockpile of Comex, the futures exchange.

The treasure was stored by the Scotia Mocatta Depository Corporation on behalf of investors that trade futures contracts in precious metals on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYME). The value of each metal, seen as "safe havens" in times of crisis, has risen since the terrorist attack.

Gold jumped almost 7pc on Monday to an 18-month high of $290.90 an ounce but fell back yesterday to $287.50. Silver closed in London yesterday at $4.31 an ounce, up from $4.27. The metal had been stored in the WTC for years and almost never changed hands.

Investors buying and selling gold and silver usually just exchange the warrants that indicate ownership. Only 1pc of gold trades involves a physical transfer, said the NYME. Analysts say that the amount under the building is not significant enough to cause a shortage in either gold or silver.

Graham Birch, head of mining at Merrill Lynch Investment Managers, said investors have been moving into his £82m gold equity unit trust. "Gold is also something of a dollar hedge and the lower interest rates are the more attractive, it seems," he said.

Trading in the fund was closed last week, however. The NYME is based at the World Financial Centre, near the ruins of the towers.

It re-opened for business on Monday after working from temporary headquarters last week. An internet trading system was devised to allow at least some dealing. The exchange was the subject of a bomb threat yesterday and evacuated the building as a "precautionary measure", halting trading briefly.

It is an old-style open outcry trading floor that was left intact by the attacks.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/money/2001/09/19/cngold19.xml

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