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About the Mints of the World
Mints and refineries around the globe are easily broken down into two categories: sovereign and private. The role of sovereign mints is, first and foremost, to product legal tender coinage and banknotes for economies around the globe. Among the most notable in this category are the United States Mint, Royal Canadian Mint, Royal Mint, and the Chinese Mint. These facilities fulfill a dual-purpose role however, producing not just circulation legal tender, but also commemorative coins and bullion products.
On the other side of the aisle you’ll find private mints and refineries, such as the Perth Mint, PAMP Suisse, Sunshine Mint, and countless other private American mints. The primary role of these facilities is the production of bullion coins, rounds, and bars to satisfy the needs of both investors and collectors. In fact, private mints are responsible for the vast majority of bullion bars produced around the globe.
The United States Mint
With passage of the Coinage Act of 1792, the United States Mint was formed to produce circulation coinage for the newly-formed United States of America. The US Mint has come a long way from the days of using horse, oxen, and men to power its coining presses. As of 2015, the United States Mint has the capacity to produce as many as 28 billion coins annually.
The modern United States Mint consists of four primary coining facilities: San Francisco Mint, Denver Mint, Philadelphia Mint, and West Point Mint. The gold depository is considered a part of the US Mint system, as is the Mint’s headquarters in Washington D.C. Former US Mint facilities include branch locations in Carson City, Nevada, Charlotte, North Carolina, Dahlonega, Georgia, New Orleans, Louisiana, Washington DC, and Manila, Philippines.
Its most popular product today, without question, is the American Eagle gold and silver coin program, which consists of bullion, proof, and burnished versions coveted by investors and collectors alike.
Royal Canadian Mint
Originally founded in 1908, the Royal Canadian Mint has today grown to become one of the world’s preeminent sovereign mints. Canadian currency was originally, from 1858 until 1908, struck by the Royal Mint in London. The growth of Canada as a nation in its own right, combined with the discovery of gold and other precious metals in the Yukon Territories, eventually facilitated the need for the nation to have its own mint.
The Royal Canadian Mint operated for nearly 70 years with only its original Ottawa coining facility. In 1976, a secondary mint location opened in Winnipeg, nearly 16 years after the government was advised of a need to expand capacity. At one point in time, the Royal Canadian Mint had to turn to the United States Mint to produce circulation currency for the nation.
Today, the royal Canadian Mint strikes more than 1 billion coins annually. In addition to its popular Canadian Maple Leaf series of gold, silver, and platinum bullion coins, the mint also strikes currency for as many as a dozen other countries.
Australia’s Perth Mint
The Perth Mint is perhaps the most interesting facility on this list, due in no small part to the fact that it sits at the intersection of private and sovereign minting responsibilities. When Australia was a British territory, the British crown decided it was necessary to open Royal Mint facilities on the continent to cope with the influx of gold from Western Australia. When the Sydney Mint opened in the 1850s, it was the first Royal Mint facility ever opened outside the United Kingdom.
Founded in 1899, the Perth Mint is now Australia’s oldest operating mint facility. It was originally part of the Royal Mint system and opened following the Sydney Mint and Melbourne Mint. However, following federation in Australia in 1901, the Perth Mint would spend a period of time acting as the official sovereign mint of Australia until the Currency Act of 1964 established the Royal Australian Mint.
Today, the Perth Mint exists in a unique position. As of July 1970, the Perth Mint passed from British possession to the state government of Western Australia. Its silver and gold coins are considered legal tender under that same currency act, however it is the responsibility of the Royal Australian Mint to produce circulation coins for the nation.
The Australian Kookaburra (1990-), Koala (2007-), and Kangaroo (1990-1993, 2016-) are the most popular bullion and proof products from the mint, but it also refines a great deal of gold and silver in bullion-bar form. The Perth Mint refines roughly 400 tonnes of gold annually.
The refinery at PAMP Suisse is a private facility that was founded in Ticino, Switzerland in 1977. Today it is considered the world’s leading bullion brand, holding dominant positions in the major precious metal markets of the world and operating state-of-the-art refining and fabrication facilities.
PAMP Suisse refines roughly 450 tonnes of gold on an annual basis, and holds the distinction of being the first in the precious metals industry to place designs on the reverse side of its small bars. Its most popular product lineup, without question, is the Fortuna Bar. Available in gold, silver, and platinum, with sizes ranging from 1 Gram to 100 oz., the Fortuna Bar is one of the most diverse offerings you’ll find on the modern precious metals market.
The company is now part of the MKS Group based out of Geneva, Switzerland. The combined company offers more than a century of experience in precious metals production and trading. MKS Global has offices around the world specializing in precious metals and financial planning.
One of America’s largest private minting facilities is the full-service operation known as Sunshine Minting. Founded in 1979 in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Sunshine Minting plays a major role both in the production of US Mint coins, as well as its own lineup of silver bars and rounds.
Sunshine Minting provides the vast majority of the 1 oz. silver blanks used by the United States Mint in the production of its popular American Silver Eagle coins. It also provides quality blanks to other world mints, though the specific list is unknown to the general public. The in-house capabilities of Sunshine Minting include everything from art and design development, tool and die work, melting and continuous casting, to edge lettering and gold plating.
The profile of Sunshing Mintin has grown to such a degree that it has locations outside of Idaho that have expanded its brand around the globe. A location was commissioned in Shanghai, China in 2011, and another in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2013. Among its many popular products is the Silver Buffalo Round, which brilliantly recreates the Buffalo Nickel design from James Earle Fraser on an affordable, widely available silver round.