HONG KONG, May 15 (Reuters) – Privately held gold trader Sakthi Trading Group is planning to build two gold refineries in Africa and is looking for investors for the projects, company executives said on Tuesday. The group, headquartered in the United Arab Emirates, is seeking a total investment of $246 million for the refineries and related processing centres, in Ghana and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Chief finance officer Mahesh Patil told a seminar at the LME Asia Week conference in Hong Kong that the group was also looking for partners to help build the plants. The company, which is also setting up retail stores in India, Hong Kong and Singapore, is expanding on its Africa gold mining interests as it pushes for a broader base for its trading business. The move comes as small- to medium-sized traders in some jurisdictions are stepping in to fill a trading gap in gold and other precious metals after banks were forced to step back from the business when regulators clamped down on the industry in the wake of allegations of manipulation in the gold price. Chief executive Hari Iyer said the African refineries would cost $53 million each, while a total of 20 mine processing centres would cost around $7 million each. Iyer, who is also the owner of the company, declined to say how much investment the company had secured so far. He added that the firm was considering a stock market listing in Singapore. “Once we finish the initial round of funding for these refineries and the service centres, we go out full-fledged to list ourselves,” he told Reuters. “It might be that it takes another 1-1/2 years.”

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