Russia’s appetite for gold accelerated last month, with the country adding the most to its reserves since at least March.

The nation increased holdings to 42.4 million ounces from 41.4 million ounces in July, the central bank said on its website Friday. The amount bought was about the same as the 30.5 metric tons that Russia purchased in March, then the highest amount in six months.

Russia, the sixth-biggest holder of the metal, more than tripled its hoard since 2005 and holds the most metal since at least 1993, International Monetary Fund data show. It’s been steadily buying bullion even as international sanctions over the Ukrainian conflict and a plunge in oil prices contributed to a collapse in the ruble. Gold priced in rubles jumped 60 percent in the past year.

“Russia has been building its holdings for a long time now for very political reasons,” Adrian Ash, head of research at BullionVault, said by phone from London. “It shows the emerging-market bid remains strong for gold, which is proving supportive.”

Russia gold reserves

Russia added about 13 tons in July and 24 tons the month before that. China, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Belarus are among other nations that have been accumulating gold.

Gold for immediate delivery has dropped 3.7 percent this year to $1,140.70 an ounce in London. Prices are heading for a third annual decline as the Federal Reserve moves closer to raising interest rates, diminishing bullion’s allure because the metal doesn’t pay interest, unlike some competing assets.

Gold remains a large part of many central banks’ reserves, decades after they stopped using it to back paper money. Nations globally have expanded holdings in the past few years, a reversal from two decades of selling since the late 1980s.