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INTERVIEW: Perth Mint: 'Our Business Has Doubled'

By Debbie Carlson of Kitco News
Friday April 26, 2013 1:21 PM

(Kitco News) - Business at the Perth Mint is brisk in the wake of gold’s sharp price drop in mid-April, reflecting the global trend of demand for the yellow metal.

“We haven’t seen this type of demand since the 2008 financial crisis. Our business has doubled. We’re racing to try to get as much stock out as we can,” said Ron Currie, Perth Mint sales and marketing director.

Since a few days are left in the month of April, the Perth Mint doesn’t have final sales figures yet, but Currie shared gold bar and coin sales for the first few months of this year to give an idea what “double” means. Coin sales in the first quarter of 2013 were 97,541 ounces, versus 65,538 ounces in 2012 at the time. The 2012 figure is lower due to unusually low sales in February. Total gold bar sales in the first three months of 2013 were 69,885 ounces, similar to last year’s sales at that time, 69,517.

The average monthly sales figure for the coins in the first three months of 2013 are about 32,513 ounces and the average monthly sales figures for the bars are 23,295 ounces.

The Perth Mint is one of a handful of elite global mints, on par with the U.S. Mint and the Royal Canadian Mint. It is owned by the Government of Western Australia and is the exclusive producer and issuer of Australia's gold, silver and platinum bullion coins.

Buyers are focusing on bullion products in the purchasing spree, with the one-ounce Kangaroo coin and bar a favorite, Currie told Kitco News in an interview. The one-ounce size is the most popular with investors even during normal sales periods.

“We’ve had some numismatic sales, but all the sales we’ve seen lately are for the bullion product. It’s skewed more to gold, but silver is beginning to see a pickup in sales,” Currie said.

For silver, the one kilogram bar and coin is hot, he added.

The Perth Mint is starting to see some interest in fractional coins offerings, which Currie said might be a result of supplies running out elsewhere. This week, the U.S. Mint suspended sales of its one-tenth ounce gold bullion coins, but said it has ample supply of other sizes. News reports have said that retail demand is strongest for the small coins.

The Perth Mint also sells platinum bullion coins, but those are not drawing the buyers. “Surprisingly we’re not seen as much interest in the platinum products. The type of person who is buying wants gold. A lot of this is latent demand (by people who) wanted to buy but didn’t jump in until now,” he said.

Currie said demand is coming from European and American buyers more than anywhere else. Demand from those geographic regions is typical, he added.

To keep up with demand, the Mint is running at full capacity to produce blanks and to have enough product on hand to sell the most popular items, Currie said, adding that they are considering suspending production of the “less popular” sizes, but didn’t elaborate on which sizes.

Currie said they have supplies of all bullion products, but are running low on the one-ounce Lunar design coin.

“We’re doing everything we can to keep up with demand,” he said.

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By Debbie Carlson of Kitco News dcarlson@kitco.com

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect those of Kitco Metals Inc. The author has made every effort to ensure accuracy of information provided; however, neither Kitco Metals Inc. nor the author can guarantee such accuracy. This article is strictly for informational purposes only. It is not a solicitation to make any exchange in precious metal products, commodities, securities or other financial instruments. Kitco Metals Inc. and the author of this article do not accept culpability for losses and/ or damages arising from the use of this publication.

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