With coin demand at what seems to be a new permanent low plateau of around three billion pieces a year, the U.S. Mint faces the choice of what to do with all of its production capacity and employees.
Is it time to do the unthinkable and close the Denver Mint?
Philadelphia alone can produce more than enough coins to keep an adequate supply going under present conditions.
That, of course, is the key phrase: present conditions.
Can anybody now envision any circumstances where coin demand will once again run over 25 billion pieces as it did in 2000 and require multiple shifts to get all of the work done?
Under those high-coin-demand circumstances, retaining the two minting facilities would be crucial.
Those who remember the story of the closure of the San Francisco Mint in 1955 might use it as an object lesson as to what happens when capacity is eliminated. A decade later there was a national coin shortage. It was put back to work.
Should the whole Mint operation be restructured? Close Philadelphia, too, after building a state-of-the-art minting facility in a large open area where Interstate highways come together. The new plant could be scalable to rapidly increase production should higher demand ever arise.
Barring such radical changes, should the Mint jump into the international scrum and look for coin striking business from other countries as it used to do but hasn’t for many years?
Or will the Mint sit at the present default position with many underused presses and employees without tasks to perform?