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Asahi Refining Inc.
It is a rare event that one of the major precious metals refiners in the world would decide to exit the industry and shutter its facilities, but just such a thing occurred in 2014 when Johnson Matthey made the decision to divest from its gold and silver refining operations. Fortunately for fans of the refiner’s products and investors everywhere, Japan’s Asahi Holdings stepped in to pick up the slack and form a new mint under the name Asahi Refining. Taking over Johnson Matthey facilities and not missing a beat, Asahi Refining is the newest name in the precious metals industry, and is already delivering silver products for shoppers on Silver.com.
Background on the Change from J&M to Asahi Refining
Johnson Matthey was originally formed in 1802 by a single man, Percival Norton Johnson. He established himself as a single entity performing gold assaying in London. By 1851, he had teamed up with George Matthey to form the Johnson Matthey brand in London, and the business was appointed as the Official Assayer & Refiner to the Bank of England in 1852.
Over the course of 160 years, the company expanded its operations and diversified, eventually growing to become a British multinational corporation with specialty chemicals and sustainable technologies at the core of its business operations today. Still headquartered in the United Kingdom, and listed on the London Stock Exchange, the company made the shocking decision in 2014 to divest from the gold and silver refining industry.
Johnson Matthey’s precious metals refining operations consisted of three facilities in North America. Two operational refineries exist in Salt Lake City, Utah and Brampton, Ontario. An additional investment casting services facility exists in St. Catharines in Canada. In December 2014, Johnson Matthey announced its intentions to divest from gold and silver refining in the interest of focusing on its long-term, strategic goals to take greater advantage of its expertise in chemistry and its high-tech solutions in various other industries.
Role of Asahi Holdings
Asahi Holdings is a Japan-based company with a rich history of operation across various business lines. Its primary operations consist of collection, recovery, and refinements of precious and rare metals, including gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. It also manufactures and sells precious metal alloys, chemicals for plating, and electrolytic recovery equipment used in gold and silver refining.
Originally formed in July 1952, the company is headquartered in Tokyo, with much of its current precious metal refining operations taking place at its Kobe, Japan facility. When Johnson Matthey opted to divest from gold and silver refining, Asahi Holdings came to the table with an offer to purchase its refining operations.
The plan announced in December 2014 by Johnson Matthey was formalized in July 2015, but Asahi Holdings took physical control of Johnson Matthey’s North American units in March 2015 and got busy minting its own bars. With the successful acquisition of Johnson Matthey’s operations for $186 million (USD, cash), Asahi Holdings formed a subsidiary known as Asahi Refining.
The newly-formed Asahi Refining acquired both the minting facilities in Salt Lake City and Brampton, as well as the investment casting services in St. Chatarines. The 340 people employed at the three locations were kept on as members of Asahi Refining. The two minting facilities now operate collectively as Asahi Refining, branding all products with the company’s name and logo. The facility in St. Catharines is now referred to as Niagara Investment Castings, and operates as a division of Asahi Refining Canada Limited.
Upon the purchase of Johnson Matthey’s facilities, the company’s standing as a London Bullion Market Association Gold Delivery member was transferred to each of the gold and silver refining operations in the new Asahi Refining corporate structure. Asahi Refining is, as a result, certified as LBMA responsible gold compliant as well as London Good Delivery refiners.
Importance of Status with LBMA
Johnson Matthey had made a name for itself producing high-value gold and silver bars that lived up to LBMA standards, a benchmark coveted by precious metals investors. The LBMA is an international trade association with a global client base that is represented by the London market for gold and silver bullion. Many gold-holding central banks, private sector investors, mining companies, and refiners are represented in the London market.
The maintenance of Good Deliver List standards is critical to the future success of Asahi Refining, and includes the accreditation of its new refinery operations and retesting of current facilities.
Asahi Refining Silver Bars
The most readily available bar from Asahi Refining at the moment is the Asahi 100 oz Silver Bar. Extremely similar in appearance to the old Johnson Matthey bars of the same weight, these bars feature 100 troy ounces of .999 fine silver. Each bar has simplistic design features and engravings, in compliance with LBMA standards.
On the obverse face of the Asahi 100 oz Silver Bar are the only engravings you’ll find on the product. At the top of the bar is the new Asahi Refining logo, which consists of a simple oval with “Asahi SLC” engraved in the outer rim and the words “Assayers, Refiners” in the middle of the oval.
Near the bottom of the bar you’ll find the engravings of the bar’s weight, its purity, and the assayer’s mark from the individual responsible for assaying products at Asahi Refining facilities. The bars have a matte finish, with rounded edges and a rectangular design. These particular bars are not Good Deliver products, but are certified by the LBMA as investment-grade bullion.
Asahi Silver Bars are now available in the following weights:
Special Issue Silver and Gold Bars
As 2015 rolled into 2016, Asahi Refining was able to get operations up and running fully. AS this occurred, Asahi began to release a collection of silver and gold bars marking the turnover from J&M production capacity to the design and production of uniquely branded Asahi silver and gold bars.
The first of these special issues was a collection of three different bars: two in silver and one in gold. The bars were labeled in their packaging as “First 1,000” release bars, indicating they were among the first 1,000 products struck by Asahi Refining at full capacity. Included in the issue were the following:
- 1 oz Silver Asahi Refining Bar: The obverse side has a blank finish with no engravings, and its only identifying features are the rough, matte finish on the product. Reverse designs include only the Asahi Refining logo, the bar’s purity, and an individual serial number. These are arranged vertically from top to bottom, with the serial numbers at the bottom of the bar’s reverse.
- 10 oz Silver Asahi Refining Bar: On the reverse of each you’ll find the Asahi Refining logo at the top. It consists of the words “Asahi SLC” in the outer rim of the oval design, and the bar’s purity in the center as “999.” At the bottom of the bar is an individual serial number for the bar, identifying it as one of the first 1,000 releases.
- 1 oz Gold Asahi Refining Bar: On the obverse of the bar there are no engravings, only the rough, matte finish that resulted from the production process. The reverse side has the Asahi Refining logo at the top and the individual serial number for the bar at the bottom.
Additionally, Asahi Refining celebrated the full, operational status of its Salt Lake City, Utah and Brampton, Ontario, Canada refining locations by striking and releasing specially marked “First 1,000” bars from those specific locations. These bars were available only in silver, and included:
- 1 Kilo Silver Asahi Bar (Salt Lake City, First 1,000): Each of the 1 Kilo Silver Asahi Bars available for purchase through this product listing comes from the crop of the first 1,000 bars struck at the Salt Lake City, Utah facility that Asahi acquired from its purchase of Johnson Matthey’s refining business. On the obverse face of the bar you’ll find the only engravings on the product. The Asahi Refining logo is visible at the top, which includes the words “Asahi SLC” and “Assayers – Refiners.” Additional engravings on this face include the weight, metal content, purity and individual serial number of the bars.
- 1 Kilo Silver Asahi Bar (Brampton, First 1,000): On the obverse side of the bar you’ll find the only markings. The Asahi Refining logo is struck at the top, with additional markings identifying the weight, metal content, and purity of the bar, as well as an individual serial number. These bars are part of the first 1,000 produced by Asahi Refining at the Brampton, Ontario, Canada facility. This is one of the two facilities Asahi took control of following the purchase of Johnson Matthey.
Purchasing Asahi Refining Products on Silver.com
Silver.com makes it easy for you to complete the purchase of your Asahi Refining products. We accept a variety of payment methods for your gold and silver products, including credit/debit cards, bank wire and PayPal transfers, and paper checks.
We accept Visa and MasterCard credit/debit cards, with a one business day processing time. Paper checks are eligible for a 4% discount and take up to six business days to process. Bank wire and PayPal transfers process immediately, releasing your products to our shipping queue for faster fulfillment.
Silver.com offers a sliding scale for shipping fees. Depending upon the total purchase price of your Asahi Refining products, you’ll find an affordable shipping fee available courtesy of the United States Postal Service or UPS. These fees are for standard shipping schedules, and extra fees would apply for expedited shipping. All purchases in excess of $3,000 qualify for free shipping and insurance.
If your products are damaged, lost, or stolen during shipping, Silver.com will work with the carriers to locate your packages. In the even this is not possible, we’ll file an insurance claim on your behalf to assist you in securing a refund of your purchase price.
Silver.com wants you to be confident in your investment in precious metal products available from our company. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at 888-989-7223, connect with us online using our live web chat service, or send us an email with your questions.