Limited production resumes at West Point facility after second shutdown
- Published: Apr 26, 2020, 9 AM
Production at the West Point Mint was resumed on a limited basis April 21 after being shut down again April 15 pursuant to coronavirus pandemic safety precautions.
The April 15 production stoppage at West Point resulted in minting of American Eagle silver bullion coins being shifted to the Philadelphia Mint.
U.S. Mint spokesman Michael White said April 21 that the West Point Mint is resuming minting the America Eagle silver coins, with the Philadelphia Mint backing up the West Point facility “as needed.”
The West Point Mint has also resumed American Eagle gold bullion coin production, he said.
The shutdowns of the West Point facility April 15 and San Francisco Mint since March 18 have affected the production and release of several precious metal bullion collector coins and gold commemorative coins.
White told Coin World April 19 that, at the time, the bureau was not producing numismatic products at any of the four Mint facilities.
“Due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Orange County, New York, and out of an abundance of caution, the United States Mint (Mint) has temporarily suspended production at the Mint facility at West Point,” White’s April 15 notice explained. “This action is being taken to further reduce the risk of Mint employee exposure to COVID-19. The Mint will resume production once it is deemed prudent to do so.” That resumption occurred April 21.
The Denver and Philadelphia Mints continue striking coins for general circulation, and the Philadelphia output temporarily included the American Eagle silver bullion coins.
Products the current and intermittent shutdowns have affected include American Eagle gold, silver and platinum bullion coins and American Buffalo gold bullion coins; American Eagles and American Buffaloes also in Uncirculated and Proof finishes; and Proof and Uncirculated 2020-W Basketball Hall of Fame gold $5 coins.
The U.S. Mint did not disclose how many American Eagle bullion coins in each precious metal or American Buffalo coins were in inventory before the April 15 production interruption.
“During the temporary suspension of operations at the Mint facility at West Point, the U.S. Mint will continue to make American Eagle and America the Beautiful silver bullion coins available to its network of Authorized Purchasers,” said White in answer to follow-up questions by Coin World, before the April 21 limited resumption of activities at the West Point Mint. “American Eagle and American Buffalo gold coins will not be available,” he had indicated, during the shutdown.
The America the Beautiful 5-ounce silver coins are produced at the Philadelphia Mint which, like the Denver Mint, is fully operational, with primary focus on production of coins for general circulation.
U.S. Mint Director David J. Ryder said the precautionary measures including the facility closures are necessary.
“My commitment to the health and safety of the Mint workforce is unwavering and continues to be my highest priority” Ryder said. “These are challenging and unprecedented times, and decisions on Mint operations are made with the best interests of Mint employees first and foremost.”
During the second temporary shutdown, the entire West Point facility was thoroughly cleaned in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) guidelines.
The West Point Mint was previously shuttered on March 28 after a nonproduction employee at the facility tested positive for the virus. The facility underwent a limited cleaning before production resumed April 1.
The Fort Knox Bullion Depository in Kentucky is fully operational, White said.
Since Washington, D.C., is under a stay-at-home order, most Mint employees at Mint headquarters are working remotely.
“With limited staff and U.S. Mint Police present at Mint Headquarters, professional cleaning staff have instructions to rotate through the building every hour to wipe and disinfect touch surfaces,” White said. “Additional cleaning is being performed in common areas and at entrances and security checkpoints. Mission essential personnel who continue to work at Mint Headquarters wear facemasks and practice social distancing.”
U.S. Mint officials have not disclosed how many examples of each numismatic product already struck in precious metals at West Point are in inventory for shipment from the bureaus’s contracted order fulfillment center in Memphis, Tennessee, to customers who order them.
As of April 15, the last numismatic product the U.S. Mint had listed in its sales catalog online was the April 17 launch of sales of the 2020-S Silver Proof set.
“The U.S. [Mint] product schedule online accurately reflects the information we have at this time,” White said.
The 2020 product schedule identifies a half dozen West Point Mint products without specific release dates, with the status listed as TBD (To Be Determined).
Those products are:
➤ Uncirculated 2020-W American Eagle 1-ounce gold $50 coin
➤ Uncirculated 2020-W American Eagle 1-ounce palladium $25 coin
➤ Proof 2020-W American Eagle 1-ounce silver dollar coin
➤ Uncirculated 2020-W American Eagle 1-ounce silver dollar coin
➤ Proof 2020-W End of World War II 75th Anniversary $50 gold coin
➤ Proof 2020-W End of World War II 75th Anniversary silver medal.
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