U.S. Mint gold, silver coin sales 'temporarily suspended' - again
Sales and suspension of gold and silver coin or bullion coin sales by the U.S. Mint are becoming a regular part of doing business as overloaded refiners and mint facilities struggle to meet continuing high demand.
Posted: Tuesday , 14 Jul 2009
RENO, NV -
Unprecedented demand, a shortage of blanks, and restrictive policies and regulations continue to exacerbate what is almost becoming a chronic shortage of gold and silver coins authorized by the U.S. Mint.
The U.S. Mint has again "temporarily" suspended sales of almost all of its gold uncirculated and proof coins, along with nearly all of silver uncirculated coins because of the limited availability of blanks.
The mint no longer offers for sale the American Buffalo Gold Proof fractional coins and four coin sets are no longer available. Meanwhile the mint will no longer offer American Buffalo Gold Uncirculated Coins.
The 2009 American Buffalo One-ounce Gold Proof Coin is scheduled to go on sale in the second half of the 2009 calendar year after an acceptable inventory of 24-karat gold blanks can be acquired.
The U.S. Mint Online Product Catalog says production of the American Eagle Gold Proof and Uncirculated Coins has been temporarily suspended due to the "unprecedented demand" for American Eagle Bullion Coins for which all available 22-K gold blanks are being allocated.
In the catalog, the government says it will resume the American Eagle Gold Proof and Uncirculated Coin Programs "once sufficient inventories of gold bullion blanks can be acquired to meet market demand for all three American Eagle Gold Coin products."
Congressionally authorized American Eagle Bullion coins are aimed at providing investors an effective way to invest in precious metals. Prices may change on a daily basis as the platinum, gold and silver markets may fluctuate. The mint does not sell the bullion coins directly to the public, but distributes them in bulk through a network of official distributors, who meet government financial and professional criteria, which must be attested to by an internationally accepted accounting firm.
So far this year, the mint has sold 700,000 ounces or 700,000 gold bullion coins, compared to last year's total sales of 860,500 ounces of gold or 1,172,000 bullion coins.
Federal laws and regulations say the gold must be newly mined in the United States. Only a handful of refineries meet the standards and regulations to produce the blanks for the coins.
Meanwhile, silver producers have found themselves equally frustrated by the inability of the U.S. Mint to meet the demand for silver coins. Production of the American Eagle Silver Proof and Uncirculated Coins has also been temporarily suspended because of unprecedented demand for the American Eagle Silver Bullion Coins.
The product catalog states, "Currently, all available silver bullion blanks are being allocated to the American Eagle Silver Bullion Coin Program, as the United States Mint is required by Public Law 99-61 to produce these coins ‘in quantities sufficient to meet public demand.'"
Thus far this year, silver bullion coin sales total 14,899,500 compared to last year's total sales of 19,583,500.
While gold and silver producers have repeatedly gone to government officials to get them to authorize an increase in the number of refineries which can produce the blanks and the facilities that can mint the coins, industry sources say they feel they have been stonewalled by mint officials who refuse to budge.
Among the U.S. manufacturers of blanks is Sunshine Minting in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and Stern-Leach of Attleboro, Massachusetts. Nearly all U.S. Mint gold coins at manufactured at West Point, New York at a remote site on military academy grounds.
U.S. Mint spokesman Michael White told Mineweb refiners are running 24-hours a day, seven days a week trying to meet demand for blanks.