Tom Power, the president, CEO and owner of Sunshine Minting, says production of silver bullion products at the main plant in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and the satellite facility in Las Vegas is running at capacity.
In a telephone interview with Coin World, Power stressed that the precious metal is not in any worldwide physical shortage. However, what is lacking is the ability of firms like his to produce enough silver planchets and striking media in the sizes and dimensions customers such as the U.S. Mint require, so that they in turn can meet their customers' demand for finished products. Power said Sunshine Minting's two production facilities are operating around the clock, seven days a week, to fill orders.
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"There is no physical shortage of the metal," Power said. "It's fabrication. Gold is also strong. We're struggling to keep up. We're giving customers everything they've paid for."
Sunshine Minting is the primary supplier of 1-ounce silver planchets to the United States Mint for the production of American Eagle silver bullion coins. Sunshine also provides silver planchets to other, undisclosed world mints. Sunshine Minting also produces its own complement of silver bullion products, bearing the firm's own hallmark and embellished with proprietary anti-counterfeiting devices as well as custom minting.
"The United States Mint doesn't get 100 percent of our capacity," Power said.
In 2013, because of the increasing demand for silver bullion products, Sunshine Minting expanded and diversified its Las Vegas operations because the Idaho facility had outgrown its physical space, Power said.
Power said over the past five or six years, a steady influx of investors has sought to add designated silver products to their investment portfolios.
In 2014, Sunshine Minting produced 70 million ounces of silver bullion products and is likely to eclipses that level in 2015, Power said.
Planchets are not the only form of silver currently in short supply. There has been a shortage of 1,000-ounce silver bars, Power said. Manufacturers often use 1,000-ounce bars in producing smaller silver bullion products. Also, premiums for the large bars are lower than for smaller bars, thus making the 1,000-ounce bar appealing to investors, especially now. Premiums have risen on all precious metals products, including gold and platinum in addition to silver, he said.