(REUTERS) -- Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd , the world's most valuable lender, said in a statement that its gold leasing business reached 62.8 tonnes of physical metal in 2011.

The bank, which started gold leasing in January last year, has more than 100 clients, including jewelers, industrial users, refiners and miners, who borrow gold for up to a year. The bank charges a fee for the leased gold, which is returned within an agreed time period.

China became the world's top gold consumer in the October-December quarter of last year, surpassing India for the first time.

The country's gold output in 2011 rose 5.89 percent from the year before to 360.95 tonnes, making China the world's No.1 gold producer for a fifth consecutive year.

Spot gold prices have risen more than 8 percent this year, trading at $1,700.75 per ounce at 0748 GMT on Tuesday.