US Coins

Mint seeks stakeholder input

The United States Mint posted notice April 10 in the Federal Register seeking written comment from coin industry leaders whose enterprises have a vested interest in whether the metallic composition of circulating U.S. coins is changed.

These “stakeholders” have 60 days from the date of the notice to submit their written comments to the bureau’s Office of Coin Studies.

The comments are to supplement input U.S. Mint officials received from stakeholders in a face-to-face meeting March 13 in Washington, D.C., about factors identified during the bureau’s research and development efforts exploring alternative metals for circulating United States coinage.

Possible changes

The factors include changes in weight, color, electromagnetic signature, environmental impact, and transition/implementation period, as outlined in the Mint’s Biennial Report to Congress on the Current Status of Coin Production Costs and Analysis of Alternative Content submitted in December 2012.

The report states that aluminum alloys are not being considered.

The total time period needed from an announcement to complete implementation of an alternative composition is 18 to 30 months, according to stakeholder feedback.

The Mint’s second biennial report to Congress, based on continuing research and development, is scheduled to be submitted in mid-December 2014.

The reports are mandated under provisions of The Coin Modernization, Oversight, and Continuity Act of 2010, Public Law 111-302.

The U.S. Mint’s deputy director, Richard A. Peterson, says Mint officials received significant feedback from the approximately 40 representatives of coin processing and handling, parking, vending, transit, amusement, and armored carrier and coin counting entities that attended the March 13 stakeholders meeting.

“If we keep the diameter and thickness the same and change the metallic composition, it will change the weight and/or electromagnetic signature,” Peterson said. “Changing the electromagnetic signature will have a large impact on a lot of businesses.”

That’s why Mint officials want to hear directly from those who would have a stake if changes would be made, Peterson said.

Feedback received

Feedback received at the March 13 stakeholders meeting indicates:

? A change to the diameter or thickness of U.S. coins would have a significant negative impact.

? The quarter dollar is the workhorse of circulating coins. Across stakeholders, any change to the quarter dollar coin [which has a copper-nickel clad composition] would bring about the most costly conversion.

? Aluminum alloy coins do not perform well under the high speeds and high pressures of currently calibrated coin sorting and handling equipment.

? A generous amount of communication and education is both needed and expected before implementing the use of alternative materials for the nation’s circulating coins.

? If new coin handling equipment or software is needed, manufacturers of coin handling equipment need six to 12 months with production sample coins before they can begin shipping new, updated equipment to end users.

? The transition period for end users to implement an alternative material coin should be at least 18 months from the date the alternative material coin is announced until it is put into circulation.

? The total time period needed for a smooth transition is 18 to 30 months.

The full Federal Register notice, with links to alternative metal study reports can be found at

The cent’s composition has been in use since 1982; the 5-cent coin has the same alloy introduced in the mid-1860s; the dime and quarter dollar composition was introduced in 1965, and the half dollar has used the same alloy since 1971; the current dollar coins are of an alloy introduced in 2000.

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