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Steel championed at hearing


It seemed to be three cheers for steel use in future American coinage at an April 17 hearing held in Washington, D.C., by the House Financial Services Committee’s Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology Subcommittee chaired by Republican Presidential Candidate Ron Paul.

Of three witnesses, two offered up the money-saving virtues of the Royal Canadian Mint’s multi-ply steel coinage.

Rodney J. Bosco of Navigant Consulting, Inc., offered conclusions from a study commissioned by Jarden Zinc Products, a licensee of the Royal Canadian Mint’s multi-ply plated steel technology, and supplier of the currently used copper-plated zinc planchets.

He said that using steel as Canada does in the nickel, dime and quarter will reduce raw materials costs of the coins by 84 to 89 percent.

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Though he did not say the cent shouldn’t be abolished, he explained that doing so would not eliminate most of the overhead costs currently ascribed to the lowest denomination. It would merely shift them.

His third conclusion was for the Mint to adopt a program of actively recovering coins of current compositions and salvaging their metals. This would yield $2 billion in revenue for the United States Mint.

The advantages of Canada’s multi-ply coinage also were cited by Dennis H. Weber, a coin industry consultant.

John Blake of Cummins Allison Corp., a coin and paper money counting equipment maker, urged a measured and consultative decision-making process as Congress looks into the question of coin compositions and the U.S. Mint researches possible alternatives.

In a statement provided to the subcommittee, the U.S. Mint’s Deputy Director Richard Peterson reported that the Mint is conducting an extensive coinage research and development effort and will report to Congress later this year.

He also urged Congress to grant the Treasury secretary the authority to change the specifications for all U.S. coins. Currently, the secretary only has the authority to change the composition of the $1 coin.

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