The moves will make the finances of South America's biggest oil exporter even murkier as the 57-year-old socialist leader gears up for next year's election battle. Chávez, below, has put large parts of Venezuela's economy under state control and is now targeting the gold industry. after his government quarrelled with foreign companies which had complained that limits on how much gold they could export hurt their efforts to secure financing and develop projects.
Chávez seems to have lost patience and decided to put the whole industry into state hands.
"We're going to nationalise the gold and we're going to convert it, among other things, into international reserves because gold continues to increase in value," the president said in a phone call to state television.
"I'm going to approve a law to begin taking the gold areas, and there I count on [the military] because there continues to be anarchy, mafias, smuggling."
Toronto-listed Rusoro, owned by Russia's Agapov family, is the only large gold miner operating in Venezuela. It produced about 100,000 ounces of gold in Venezuela last year.
Its nationalisation fits with Chávez's broader plan to repatriate his country's bullion and shift most of its cash reserves out of western nations to political allies including China, Russia and Brazil.
The president, who has undergone two sessions of chemotherapy in Cuba since he announced that he had cancer two months ago, often rails against the reliance on the US dollar as the global reserve currency of choice.
The move is in line with Chávez's ideological world view: during his 12 years in power he has sought to align Venezuela with emerging powers and opponents of Washington such as Iran.
Finance minister Jorge Giordani said the transfers were under way, and that mounting debt worries in Europe and the US showed that Venezuela needed to diversify where it kept its reserves.
Transferring funds to China for safe-keeping would appeal to Beijing, which has invested billions of dollars in Venezuela's nationalised oil industry.