Two years ago, as part of the launch of aRMour, the Royal Mint began striking 5-penny and 10-penny coins with the nickel-plated steel alloy instead of using a copper-nickel alloy. Though some were concerned about allergic reactions to the nickel, the Royal Mint reported that its testing suggests the concerns were unfounded, and the new lighter, cheaper coins have proliferated.
After switching coining to the plated alloy, the Royal Mint began an alloy recovery program, harvesting older coins for their copper-nickel, which is melted and sold. If the idea sounds familiar, it’s because the Royal Canadian Mint developed it nearly a decade ago as a way to drive orders for replacement coins (which are plated and cost less to produce than the copper-nickel coins) and to reap money from the reclaimed metal.
At the Royal Mint, older alloy coins are processed in a machine that obliterates the designs at a rate of 1 ton per hour, so the coins can be sent to outside contractors to be melted.
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