The entrance to the Royal Mint, which is located in Llantrisant, Wales, near Cardiff. From London, it takes about two hours by train plus 20 minutes by car to get to the site in the Welsh countryside.
Before entering the production area, coins, cell phones and other devices must be placed into visitors’ lockers. Stroll out of the main entrance and you’re on your way to the giant buildings that house the plating and minting operations. A few other, smaller buildings contain offices, a gift shop and museum, and other places like the employee lunchroom.
The first machine you encounter in the main building, where melting, rolling and blanking occur, is the melting furnace, its boiling cauldron of copper cathodes and nickel bars steaming at the 900 degrees Celsius necessary to meld the metal together to create the coinage strip that rolls out of the casting furnace.
After cooling and scalping (the removal of debris from the surface) the strip is sent through another rolling machine to reduce it to the proper thickness. Then it is advanced to the blanking machine where blanks are punched out at a rate of 500 per minute. The blanks are annealed and then rimmed to form a proto-rim. The facility has four casting lines that can each produce at the rate of 1 inch of coil per minute.
The section was a lot busier just a few years ago, said Evan Thomas, a worker in the casting area, before the advent of plated coinage.
Plated coinage is one factor that the Royal Mint is counting on to drive its growth in the coming years.
Read the entire Visiting the Royal Mint series:
Part One — Making our way to the Mint
Part Two — New iSIS Technology
Part Three — World coinage production
Part Four — Targeting Asia, India— Coming soon