A report and supporting documentation detailing the U.S. Mint’s study of alternative coinage metals during the past two years was sent to Congress Dec. 12.
The Mint has concluded from work conducted over the past two years that “there are no alternative metal compositions that reduce the manufacturing unit cost of the penny below its face value.”
Savings of up to $57 million a year can be achieved through adjustments to the compositions of other denominations and the Mint specifically explored six of them. (See related story).
The Mint said it will continue research into an 80 percent copper, 20 percent nickel composition that is not much different from the 75-25 compositions currently used in nickels, dimes and quarters, despite the fact cost savings are small. It will report on this before Sept. 30, 2015.
Further research and development will be done with stainless steel though it “does not recommend the use of multi-ply-plated steel or nickel-plated steel for circulating coins with a face value equal to or greater than twenty-five cents.”
It will look into a nickel silver alloy of copper, nickel and zinc.
Ongoing the report said the Mint would explore production improvements and continue stakeholder outreach, which is important as the vending industry stands to incur costs that could reach $6 billion to change machines to use coins of new compositions.
The Mint also said it would “initiate studies to understand consumer behavior regarding the use of coins for commerce.” This will include public surveys and focus groups.
This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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