Top gold refinery missing 87,000oz

The shareholders of South Africa's Rand Refinery have been forced to provide a more than $100 million standby loan after the Johannesburg-based gold processor, one of the largest globally, found a huge gap between its physical bullion holdings and its accounting records.

According to a statement the refiner adopted a new software system for "enterprise resource planning" in April last year which "led to a difference between the actual inventory and the accounting records of approximately 87,000oz of gold".

At today's prices the "lost" gold is worth $114 million.

The refinery could not produce a 2013 annual report because of "uncertainty around the true position (of the resources). Rand Refinery requested financial assistance from shareholders as a precautionary measure, should resolution of the difficulties result in a financial loss for the company.

Rand Refinery which processes some 400 tonnes of gold per year from South African miners and other producers on the continent, are jointly held by AngloGold Ashanti, Sibanye Gold, Harmony Gold and Gold Fields.

Rand Refinery has since 1920 refined nearly 50 000 tonnes of gold – almost one third of all the gold mined worldwide.

South Africa was the world's top gold producer for decades until 2007 when it was overtaken by China.

From a peak of more than 1,000 tonnes during the African nation's heyday as a gold producer in the 1960s and 1970s, production has now fallen to around 140 tonnes.