Why Was 18.3Moz of Silver Deposited into the SLV Jan 16th?
The obvious answer is “JPM opened a new warehouse!”.
However, that does not answer the question, as only 10 Moz went into their new warehouse.
The experts seem to agree that one of the most plausible explanations is that JPM closed out their short position in SLV.
One or more people have 17,016,600 shares of SLV short (about 16,458,115oz) at last count (which could be a couple weeks old). It is believed that JPM is likely responsible for much or all of that short position. The unexplained addition of 17,410,210.4oz to SLV (remember, 967,881.6oz are considered a ‘normal deposit’) would cover the entire short position and then some. Or if another 967,881.6oz (1M shares) were a normal deposit, that would leave 16,442,329.4oz unaccounted for, almost exactly matching the short position.
It appears that JPM has found a way to bypass the COMEX re-entry process, making the transfer of bars from SLV to COMEX and vice-versa extremely simple.
On 16 Jan 2013, there was a deposit of 18.3Moz of silver into the SLV ETF (which iShares reflected on its website at approximately 8:00PM). This was by far the largest deposit in years, with the only other deposit of its size being quickly reversed. We were likely the first to discover this, around 8:30PM that evening after the SLV data was updated.
As we predicted when we mentioned it, this quickly became big news in the silver world.
How Much was Added Unexpectedly?
The iShares stats page is updated daily around 8PM EST. At that time on 16 Jan 2013, it showed a deposit of 18,378,092.0 ounces of silver (technically, the number of ounces in the trust was 18,378,092.0 higher than it was the day before).
iShares also publishes a bar list each day that lists all the bars in the trust. The bar list published the next day (dated 17 Jan 2013) showed a deposit of 1,934,561.9 ounces of silver, which almost certainly included the 967,280.0 ounces that had been added the day before (reflected on the iShares stats page on 15 Jan 2013 around 8PM). That leaves only 967,881.6 ounces of the large 18.3Moz deposit on that bar list. It is not uncommon for deposits to be split like this. The most likely reason is that there were two separate deposits.
The 967,881.6 ounces on the 17 Jan 2013 bar list was comprised of bars from the “usual suspects” of refiners (bars that normally are seen in deposits each week). So I’m guessing that the 967,881.6 ounces was a separate normal deposit made earlier in the day (and hence was in time for that days’ bar list).
So in reality, the unusual deposit was 17,410,210.4 ounces (18,378,092.0 minus 967,881.6).
JPM’s New Vault
The bar list released on Monday morning (dated 18 Jan 2013; we discovered it around 7AM EST and announced it around 11AM EST) provides many more details — including the addition of a new vault.
The new bar list shows a vault run by JPM in New York (almost certainly the same one that JPM uses for COMEX, as JPM started running a COMEX-approved warehouse in 2011). It had almost exactly 10Moz in it (10,000,998.7 ounces — 1 extra bar to get it over the 10Moz mark).
This was not completely unexpected, as the prospectus was updated recently to reflect that silver could be delivered by Authorized Participants to either London or New York (or other locations to be authorized in the future), hinting that a New York warehouse would be opened.