Tag Archives: Perth Mint

Investing in the Noble Metal of Platinum

Along with gold and silver, platinum is a recognized investment precious metal which is fabricated in the form of high quality bullion bars and bullion coins by some of the world's leading precious metals refineries and mints.

Importantly, as a recognized investment precious metal, platinum bars and platinum coins from these refineries and mints are exempt from Singapore's Good and Services Tax (GST). This means that there is no GST to pay when you buy platinum bars and coins from BullionStar in Singapore.

Platinum's High Intrinsic Value

Like gold, platinum is relatively scarce and has a relatively high intrinsic value and market value. And like gold and silver, platinum also has many industrial and technological applications. Platinum's value is thus based on a combination of its scarcity of supply and also on its physical and chemical properties. These properties in turn drive the diverse global demand sources for platinum across sectors such as the automotive, industrial and jewelry industries in addition to the investment sector.

For example, platinum has well-known catalytic properties which allow it to speed up chemical reactions without it being altered in the process. Hence platinum is used in autocatalysts, in the chemical industry and in fuel cells. Platinum is also a very strong attractive metal that does not corrode and that is both ductile and malleable, hence it is a very popular precious metal in the jewelry industry. Since platinum is resistant to corrosion and oxidation, it is classified, along with a small number of other metallic elements, as a noble metal.

Platinum - A Noble Metal
Platinum - A Noble Metal

Platinum is a relatively scarce metal in the earth's crust and even rarer than gold. In contrast to gold, annual platinum supply and platinum demand is far lower than annual supply and demand in the gold market. According to Thomson Reuters GFMS, supply of platinum in 2016 totaled 7661,000 ozs (238 tonnes) of which 188 tonnes came from platinum mining with a further 50 tonnes was derived from autocatalyst and platinum jewellery scrap recycling.

Within platinum extraction and mining, over 70% of global mine supply comes from South Africa, with a further 12% from Russia, 7% from North America, and the remaining 10 - 11% from elsewhere. South Africa's dominance of global platinum supply is also evident in the composition of the recently established World Platinum Investment Council (WPIC) which is a platinum investing advocacy association founded by six South African platinum mining companies, namely Anglo-American, Lonmin, Implats, Aquarius, Northam, and Royal Bafokeng.

On a country specific basis, platinum mining's concentration in a handful of countries can sometimes set up supply shocks, for example, platinum mining strikes in South Africa or geo-political risks/sanctions concerning Russia. These shocks can at times affect platinum prices to the upside.

On the demand side, according to GFMS, autocatalysts are the largest global demand driver for platinum. For example, autocatalysts accounted for 102 tonnes of platinum demand in 2016 followed by jewellery (68 tonnes) and other industrial applications (57 tonnes), with investment (bars, coins and platinum-backed Exchange Traded Funds) accounting for the remaining 16.8 tonnes.

Note that in its pure form, platinum is available as platinum grains (used in the jewelry sector) and as platinum sponge (used in industrial applications) in addition to platinum bars and coins. However, other forms of platinum are designed for further onward processing and should not be confused with investment-grade platinum. For investment and storage purposes, refineries and mints will always produce platinum in the form of platinum bars and platinum coins, and furthermore, only bars and coins from recognized refineries and mints can be classified as investment precious metals and be exempt from Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Heraeus Minted Platinum Bars
Heraeus Minted Platinum Bars

Singapore GST Exemption for Investment Platinum Bars and Coins

Since October 2012, the Singaporean Government has exempted Investment Precious Metals (IPM) from Singapore's Goods and Services Tax (GST). To qualify as IPM, precious metals must be in the form of a bar, ingot, wafer or coin which meets specific criteria. Platinum bars qualify as IPM in Singapore if the platinum bar has a platinum purity of at least 99%, can be traded on an international bullion market, and is produced by a platinum refiner listed on the current or former Good Delivery list of the London Platinum and Palladium Market (LPPM).

The LPPM is a London-based trade association for the global wholesale platinum and palladium markets. There are currently more than 30 refineries on the current LPPM Good Delivery List for Platinum including such refineries as Heraeus of Germany, Johnson Matthey of the UK, and the four large Swiss precious metals refineries Argor-Heraeus, PAMP, Valcambi, and Metalor.

Investment grade platinum bars produced by accredited refiners will generally carry the name of the refiner or refiner stamp or brand on the bar. If a refinery has the LPPM accreditation, the Singaporean IPM rules assume that the refinery's bars are capable of being traded on an international bullion market. Some platinum bars may in turn bear the name of a specific bank such as Credit Suisse or UBS. These bars are known as bank-branded bars and these bars also qualify as IPM if produced by a refiner on the LPPM Good Delivery List.

For platinum coins, a GST exemption applies if the coin is a bullion coin, has a platinum purity of at least 99%, and is listed on the GST schedule list of qualifying coins. Qualifying platinum coins include:

  • Royal Mint Platinum Canadian Maple Leaf
  • US Mint Platinum American Eagle
  • Austrian Mint Platinum Philharmonic
  • Perth Mint Platinum Platypus and Platinum Koala
  • Royal Mint Platinum Britannia, Platinum Lunar and Platinum Queens Beast

Physical platinum investment bars and coins are very popular in markets such as the US, Japan, China and the rest of Asia, and the market is a growing one on the back of the existing popularity of high quality platinum jewelry in these markets.

Platinum Bullion Bars

BullionStar's range of investment grade platinum bars is extensive and features platinum bars in a number of weights from the world's most prestigious platinum refineries. All platinum bars offered by BullionStar are exempt from Singapore's Goods and Services Tax as all bars have a platinum purity of 99.95% and are fabricated by platinum refineries such as Valcambi of Switzerland, Heraeus of Germany, and Argor-Heraeus of Switzerland. All of these refineries are listed on the current LPPM Good Delivery List for Platinum and additionally all of these refineries are also full members of the LPPM. Popular weights for platinum bars stocked by BullionStar include 1 kilogram, 500 grams, 100 grams and 1 oz.

Credit Suisse minted Platinum bar
Credit Suisse minted Platinum bar

For example, Valcambi produces a 1 oz minted platinum bar which is presented in its own secure blister pack which doubles as the bar's assay card. The Heraeus refinery of Germany produces minted platinum bars in a range of weights from a 100 gram minted platinum bar, through 500 gram minted platinum bars, and up to a 1 kilogram platinum bar. Swiss refiner Argor-Heraeus, now fully owned by Heraeus of Germany, fabricates its own minted platinum bars with the distinctive Argor-Heraeus logo, for example the Argor-Heraeus 1 kilogram minted platinum bar.

BullionStar at times also carries bank-branded platinum bars, such as a Credit Suisse 100 gram platinum bar which has been produced by Swiss refiner Valcambi on behalf of the Swiss Bank Credit Suisse. These platinum bars are also GST exempt in Singapore as they have been fabricated by a refiner, Valcambi, which is on the LPPM Good Delivery List for Platinum. Valcambi has in the past had a very close connection with Credit Suisse and was at various stages both fully-owned and partially owned by Credit Suisse.

Platinum Bullion Coins

Most of the world's best-known national precious metals mints produce a bullion coin in pure platinum. These include platinum coins from the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM), Austrian Mint, US Mint, and the Perth Mint. All of these mints are fully owned by their respective national governments and all of these mints stand over the authenticity and quality of their bullion coin products.

Some platinum bullion coins are produced every year, and some are produced with more sporadic production runs. Many of the bullion platinum coins offered by BullionStar are in similar designs to their gold and silver coin counterparts and are issued in the convenient and standard 1 ounce weight. All of these platinum bullion coins are also legal tender (non-circulating) in their countries of issue.

For example, the Royal Canadian Mint produces a 1 ounce Platinum Maple Leaf with the distinctive maple leaf design. This design will be familiar to investors in the Royal Canadian Mint's Gold Maple Leaf and Silver Maple Leaf coins. RCM Platinum Maple Leafs are produced on an annual basis, including the years 2018, 2017, and 2016.

Royal Canadian Mint 1 oz platinum Maple Leaf
Royal Canadian Mint 1 oz platinum Maple Leaf

The Austrian Mint also issues a 1 oz Platinum Philharmonic bullion coin each year which is intricately designed with highly-stylized motifs celebrating the world-famous Vienna Philharmonic orchestra.

Those who invest in silver and gold Eagle bullion coins from the US Mint will also be interested in the US Mint's flagship 1 oz Platinum Eagle bullion coin which is handsomely designed with imagery of the Statue of Liberty and a soaring American Eagle. The Platinum Eagle, which was first released in 1997, is the only platinum coin ever officially issued by the US, and has the highest face value (US $100) ever to appear on any US coin.

The Perth Mint's has produced a number of platinum bullion coins over the years although not in all sequential years. From 1988 to 2000, the Perth Mint issued a Platinum Koala bullion coin in a number of weight denominations. Then in 2011, the Mint began issuing its flagship 1 oz Australian Platypus Platinum coin. Production of the Platypus Platinum coin continued until 2017 when it was superseded by the Perth Mint's Australian Platinum Kangaroo coin 1 oz bullion coin.

Another option offered by BullionStar for those who wish to begin saving and investing in platinum is the Bullion Savings Program (BSP). With BullionStar's BSP, customers purchase grams of platinum, gold or silver which are fully-backed by physical precious metals held in BullionStar's stock inventory. These metal grams are available for a low price premium and low spread and are therefore a cost-efficient way to begin saving in precious metals. The metal grams can also be converted in precious metals bars once sufficient grams have been accumulated.

For example, with the Platinum Bullion Savings Program,  customers can purchase grams of platinum that are fully backed by platinum held in BullionStar's inventory. BSP platinum grams have a low-cost storage fee, and can be converted into 1 kg Heraeus Platinum bars at no extra cost. These bars can then be held by customers in BullionStar's Vault Storage, or physically withdrawn and delivered. Alternatively, investors in BSP platinum grams can sell their platinum grams back to BullionStar at any time.

The Celebration of Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is probably the most important date in the Chinese calendar, with the event being celebrated throughout China and in Chinese communities around the world. Gold plays an essential part of the Chinese New Year celebrations.

Also known as Lunar New Year, the date on which Chinese New Year falls each year is variable since it follows the Lunisolar calendar, hence the New Year festival is a movable event. However, Chinese New Year usually falls somewhere between 21 January and 21 February and the date is calculated based on the occurrence of a new moon.

This year, Chinese New Year is on Friday 16 February and marks the beginning of ‘Year of the Dog’ and the completion of the preceding ‘Year of the Rooster’. The Chinese calendar follows a 12-year repeating cycle and is also associated with 12 animals of the Zodiac (Sheng Xiao), with each year in the cycle represented by a different animal. The Year of the Dog is the 11th year in the Zodiac cycle. Next year in 2019, Chinese New Year falls on 5 February, and marks the beginning of the 'Year of the Pig', the final year of the cycle.

The 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac (Sheng Xiao)

People born in the upcoming Year of the Dog are said to be loyal, honest and friendly with a sense of responsibility as well as being intelligent, independent and decisive. And across China, dogs are also considered auspicious and associated with good fortune.

New Year's Day in China also marks the beginning of the Spring Festival. During Spring Festival, there is a 7 day public holiday across mainland China, beginning on Lunar New Year’s Eve and ending on the 6th day of the new lunar year. This year, the New Year public holiday starts on 15 February and lasts until 21 February. The actual Spring Festival then continues and runs up to the 15th day of the new lunar month which coincides with the traditional Lantern Festival. This year the Lantern Festival is on Friday 2 March.

Customs and Traditions across the Spring Festival

Chinese New Year celebrations are predominantly associated with the colour red. Red is traditionally thought to bring good luck and good future while scaring away evil and bad fortune. This tradition is associated with the story of a mythological beast Nian which in Chinese folklore was scared off by the use of red items and loud noises. Hence New Year’s celebrations incorporate red bunting, red hanging lanterns, dragon dances and loud displays of fire crackers, and its also common in China to see red cloths hanging at the entrances to houses during New Year’s festivities. Wearing red clothes is also popular over the festival and is thought to bring good luck.

In China, the New Year festivities incorporate various customs and traditions symbolising the renewal of a new year, the passing of an old year, and the cultivation of good luck. In the week before New Year, people traditionally clean their houses as a way of cleaning out the old. New Year is also a popular time to purchase new items as it signifies a new beginning and the welcoming of a new year.

The gifting of money-filled red envelopes is also popular during New Year across China. These gifts are thought to bring good luck to the recipient, hence they are known as lucky red envelopes. An amount containing the number 8 is particularly auspicious as the number 8 is thought to be lucky and bring prosperity. But apart from the money, the red colour of the envelope is also associated with good fortune.

Reunion Dinner is one of the most important family occasions in the Chinese calendar

The days leading up to New Year are a time of immense travel within China with millions of people on the move as they return home to their families and relatives to celebrate. A particularly important event during this time is the traditional ‘Reunion Dinner’ which takes place on New Year's Eve, and is a traditional dinner celebrated together with family.

Gift Giving for Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is also one of the most popular times in China for buying physical gold, gold for gift giving, but also for investment given that it's an auspicious time of the year. At the retail level, Chinese gold demand at this time of year sees a noticeable peak as people across China rush to buy gold bars and buy gold coins, especially for gifting.

This is particularly true of gold coins and gold bars with a Lunar New Year theme, a Zodiac animal theme, or that have an association with China. At BullionStar, we have a wide selection of gold coins and gold bars which would make impressive gifts for Chinese New Year for both family and friends.

PAMP Lunar Series 2018 Year of the Dog Gold Bars

Swiss gold refinery PAMP is one of the best known and most prestigious gold bar brands on the market and is especially popular across Asia. This year PAMP celebrates  the 'Year of the Dog'  with a beautifully designed high relief gold bar portraying a dog motif on both the front and the reverse of the bar's surface. These Lunar gold bars are ideal for gifting and for celebrating the good fortune associated with Chinese New Year.

Available in both 100 gram and 1 ounce weights, PAMP's Lunar minted gold bars contain .9999 pure gold and capture the dog's symbolic qualities of loyalty and friendship. The intricate design on the front face features a portrait of an adult dog sitting in front of a kennel. The reverse of each Lunar gold bar cleverly reveals, through a reverse angle of the same scene, a puppy in the kennel sheltered behind the parent dog.

The bars reverse face is also embossed with PAMP’s refinery logo, the weight and purity of the bar, the bar’s unique serial number, and the Swiss assay mark and guarantee of authenticity Essayeur Fondeur.

PAMP Suisse 2018 Year of the Dog Gold Bar

Each PAMP Lunar gold bar comes in a distinctive and secure assay card

Royal Canadian Mint MapleGram 8

The MapleGram 8 from the Royal Canadian Mint is a particularly stylish set of 8 Maple Leaf gold coins presented within an attractive red and gold display card and designed around a Chinese New Year theme. Each of the 8 gold Maple Leaf coins weighs 1 gram and contains 9999 fine gold. Each of the 8 coins in the set also has its own unique 8 digit serial number. The red and gold design of the MapleGram 8 signifies luck and good fortune, while the presence of 8 coins references the auspiciousness of the number 8 in Chinese culture.

MapleGram 8 from the Royal Canadian Mint

Perth Mint Gold Lunar 2018 - Year of the Dog

Another attractive gift option for Chinese New Year are the very popular Lunar themed bullion coins from Australia’s Perth Mint, which for 2018 celebrate the Year of the Dog. These coins are the 11th in the Perth Mint’s current series of Lunar bullion coins.

The Perth Mint’s 2018 Gold Lunar coin is available in 6 weight denominations, namely 2 oz, 1 oz, 0.5 oz, 0.25 oz, 0.1 oz and 0.005 oz, each of which is minted from 0.9999 fine gold. The 1 oz 2018 Gold Lunar has a maximum mintage of 30,000 pieces. The reverse of the Lunar gold coin features a stylish and detailed image of a Labrador Retriever with the Chinese character for "Dog", and "Year of the Dog" is a circular inscription underneath.

Perth Mint Lunar gold coin 2018 - Year of the Dog

Perth Mint Lunar Silver 2018 - Year of the Dog

Also in celebration of Chinese New Year, the Perth Mint has produced a 2018 'Year of the Dog' Silver Lunar coin available in weight denominations of 0.5 oz, 1 oz, 2 oz, 5 oz, 10 oz, and 1 kg, all of which contains 99.99% silver and have a superior finish. The reverse of the 2018 Silver lunar celebrates the new Zodiac with a handsome portrayal of a German Shepherd dog and pup. The coin also displays the Chinese character for "Dog", with a circular inscription underneath of "Year of the Dog". While gold is more popular for gifting at New Year in China, silver coins, especially the bigger ones such as the 1 kg Silver Lunar for 2018, can also be gifted.

In addition, the Perth Mint has also released a Year of the Dog 1 oz proof version of the 2018 Silver Lunar which comes in its own box with a certificate of authenticity, and a Year of the Dog 1 oz proof high relief 2018 Silver Lunar also with its own box and certificate of authenticity.

China Gold Panda Coins

In terms of gold bullion and China, Chinese Panda gold coins are undoubtedly the most famous Chinese gold product on the international market, and would make interesting gift ideas for Chinese New Year. Minted in China by Shenzhen Guobao Mint, this Mint is part of China Gold Coin Corporation, which in turn is owned by the Chinese State.

30 gram Chinese Gold Panda coin 2018 - Year of the Dog

Each year the design on Chinese Gold Panda coins changes, with the reverse of the new 2018 coin featuring a powerful portrait of a Giant Panda feeding on a bamboo shoot. The front of each Gold Panda coin features imagery of the Hall of Prayer for Abundant Harvests in the Temple of Heaven in Beijing.

Gold Panda coins are produced in 5 weight denominations ranging from the flagship 30 gram Gold Panda coin, through to Gold Panda coins weighing 15 grams, 8 grams, 3 grams and down to a 1 gram gold coin. The 30 gram Gold Panda coin, weighing the equivalent of 0.965 troy ounces, is always a popular seller and would make a New Year’s gift to remember. Given that 8 is the luckiest number in China and is associated with prosperity and good fortune, the 8 gram Gold Panda coin is also of interest during the New Year festival.

Heraeus 1 kg Silver Lunar Stacker Bar

The Year of the Dog is also celebrated in a new 1 kg Silver Lunar Stacker Bar from the world-famous Heraeus precious metal refinery in Germany. Each of these 1 kg (32.15 ozs) Heraeus Silver Lunar bars contains 99.9% pure silver and has the words “2018 Year of the Dog” embossed on the bar's front surface along with the bar's weight and fineness “1 Kilo” and “999 FINE SILVER” which encircles a stylised representation of a dog.

Heraeus 1 kg Silver Stacker Bar 2018 - Year of the Dog

The reverse of each of these silver bars features an anti-forgery swirl pattern design for added security, and displays the bar's unique serial number. The Heraeus Silver Stacker bar is designed for easy storage and comprises rectangular beveled surfaces that interlock for ease of stacking.

1 oz Silver Happy Chinese New Year - Lion Dance

Also of interest for Chinese New Year is a 1 oz proof silver “Happy Chinese New Year - Lion Dance” coin produced by Victoria Mint on behalf of the Republic of Chad. The silver coin’s reverse features a colorized depiction of a traditional Chinese Lion dance which is synonymous with good luck and fortune, and the Chinese characters ‘新年快樂’ meaning ‘Happy New Year’. This proof silver coin has been produced by the Mint in a very limited issue of just 1000 coins. Each coin comes with a certificate of authenticity and is presented in a red velvet casing and outer box.

Buy Silver Bullion in Singapore

Singapore offers a number of benefits when buying and storing silver. In Singapore, the majority of silver bullion bars and silver bullion coins from the world’s major mints and refineries are exempt from Goods and Services Tax (GST). There are also no taxes or duties on the import or export of silver.

Singapore is also one of the safest and most secure jurisdictions in the world. This has led to the development of an extensive range of secure vault storage services in the country. There are also no reporting requirements when buying and storing silver in Singapore.

While the gold market in Singapore often overshadows that of silver, its important to remember that Singapore hosts an active market for silver as well as for gold.

Singapore: Precious Metals Hub

Singapore's Government actively supports the growth and development of Singapore as a precious metals trading and storage hub, and this applies equally to buying and storing silver as to buying and storing gold. According to a recent Singapore bullion market survey conducted by the SBMA, more that 4200 tonnes of silver were traded in Singapore during 2015.

This active trading is partially due to the fact that there are no licensing requirements on the importation or exportation of silver to and from Singapore. The silver trading market in Singapore is also supported by the presence of a number of active bullion banks, trading houses, and retail bullion dealers.

Furthermore, Swiss headquartered Metalor operates its own precious metals refinery in Singapore which has processing capacity for both silver and gold, and there are a number of large wholesale precious metals storage facilities situated in Singapore, such as at Brinks and Le Freeport which store physical silver as well as gold.

BullionStar offers a wide range of investment grade Silver Bars and Silver Coins

One of the immediate attractions of buying silver bullion in Singapore is the exemption of silver bullion from Singapore's Goods and Services Tax (GST). This means that when you buy silver bars and silver coins from a bullion dealer Singapore, you pay no sales tax whatsoever.

The GST exemption was first introduced by the Singapore Government in October 2012, and applies to Investment Precious Metals (IPM) which are defined as qualifying gold, silver and platinum in the form of coins, bars, ingots and wafers.

Investment silver means silver bars and silver coins that have a silver purity of 99.9% or higher. Qualifying silver bars must be tradable on the international market, be fabricated by a refiner accredited to the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) Good Delivery List for Silver, and generally, all qualifying bars are required to bear a recognizable hallmark of a refiner.

All silver bullion bars stocked by BullionStar qualify for this GST exemption, so when customers buy silver bullion bars at BullionStar, they can be assured that the prices listed for these silver bars will be free of GST.

Monster Box of Canadian Maple Leaf Silver Coins

For silver bullion coins to receive the GST exemption, they must be legal tender coins in their country of origin. Additionally, only silver bullion coins included on a specific list drawn up by Singapore’s Revenue Authority are currently GST exempt.

From the latest GST guide on exempted IPM, dated July 2017, the list of silver coins that are GST free spans 16 issues of silver coins from a combined 8 countries around the world.

These includes silver coins from the US Mint, Perth Mint, Royal Canadian Mint, Royal Mint, Austrian Mint, as well as silver coins issued by the Mexican national mint, the Chinese State, and a silver bullion coin issued on behalf of the Government of Armenia.

The current list of GST exempt Silver Coins is as follows:

From time to time, the Singapore revenue authority updates this list and adds new silver coins to the list of exemptions. Note that the above links are mostly to the popular 1 oz denomination, but the GST exemption applies to all weight denominations that are issued for each of the qualifying coin types.

Royal Canadian Mint 1 oz Silver Maple Leaf

All of the above silver coins are stocked by BullionStar in all available denominations, and are can be purchased either at BullionStar’s shop and showroom on New Bridge Road central Singapore, or via BullionStar’s online website. So when customers purchase any of the silver bullion coins on this list, they will receive these coins at prices that are free of GST.

Popular Silver Bullion Products

An interesting way to gauge the relative popularity of the investment silver bullion market in Singapore is by looking at BullionStar’s annual sales figures. Each year BullionStar transparently publishes its annual sales figures on its website, including in infographic format.

During financial year 2017, ending 30 June 2017, BullionStar generated full year sales revenues of SGD 186.2 million, with silver products accounting for just over a quarter of total sales (25.7%).

Silver bar sales represented 21% of total sales, with 1 kg silver bars being the most popular bar weight sold, followed by 100 oz silver bars. Silver coins represented just over 4.6% of total sales, and the most popular silver bullion coins bought by BullionStar customers were Canadian Silver Maple coins followed by Australian Silver Kangaroo coins.

Generally speaking, premiums on silver bullion coins will tend to be higher than premiums on silver bullion bars. Likewise, premiums on large silver coins and large silver bars will generally be lower than those on similar bars and coins of smaller denominations.

BullionStar 1 kg Silver Bullion Bars

BullionStar also offers the popular BullionStar branded 1 kg minted silver bar. These high-lustre polished 1 kg silver bars are exempt of GST and are fabricated by the world-famous Heraeus precious metals refinery in Germany. Heraeus is a LBMA accredited refinery.

BullionStar 1 kg Minted Silver Bars

Importantly, there is no spread between the buy price and the sell price on these BullionStar 1 kg silver bars when transacted in 100 units or more, and only a small spread if a quantity of less than 100 bars is bought or sold.

Saving in Grams of Silver

BullionStar’s Bullion Savings Program (BSP) in silver is a novel way to begin saving in silver. Denominated in grams, every gram of silver purchased by a BSP customer is fully backed by BullionStar’s stock inventory. Purchases start from as little as 1 gram of silver.

When a sufficient quantity of BSP grams of silver has been accumulated, customers can then convert these grams of silver to Heraeus 15 kg silver bars at no extra cost. The storage costs of silver in the BSP program are just 0.19% per annum.

Merlion Silver Rounds

BullionStar has recently issued a 1 oz Merlion Silver Round celebrating Singapore’s famous Merlion statue. The imagery on the 1 oz silver round also displays Singapore's national flower, the Orchid. This round silver bullion bar is minted by LBMA accredited refiner Republic Metals Corporation, and is GST exempt since it is a round silver bullion bar in .9999 silver minted by a LBMA accredited refiner.

The Silver Price in Singapore Dollars

During 2017, the silver price measured in Singapore Dollars has traded in a range between just over SGD 21.5 and SGD 26 per troy ounce, with higher prices seen in the first half of the year. Since August, the price has fluctuated in a narrow range between SGD 22 and SGD 23 mark. Overall, a troy ounce of silver in terms of Singapore Dollars is cheaper now than it has been for most of 2017, and now may be a suitable entry point for Singapore based investors buying silver for the first time, or for existing silver holders wishing to accumulate additional physical silver.

Year to Date chart for 1 Troy Ounce of Silver in Singapore Dollars

Silver Storage in Singapore

Singapore is one of the safest and most secure jurisdictions in the world for those who wish to store silver and other precious metals. Due to a strong rule or law and stable prosperous economy, there is virtually no serious crime in Singapore. Singapore’s legal system vigorously upholds property rights, and importantly, there are no reporting requirements on buying, storing or selling silver bullion or other precious metals.

In addition to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) exemption on investment precious metals mentioned above, there are no capital gains taxes on silver or other precious metals in Singapore, no dividend taxes, no inheritance taxes, in fact no taxes whatsoever. All of these factors help explain why Singapore has become well-known internationally as a storage hub for silver and gold, and why a number of secure vault storage providers, such as BullionStar, successfully operate in the Singapore jurisdiction.

BullionStar offers secure vault storage in Singapore for Silver and other Precious Metals

BullionStar's secure storage offering operates a highly security precious metals vault integrated into its downtown Singapore facility. All customer silver bullion bar and coin holdings in BullionStar's secure vault are fully allocated, and customers at all times have full legal title to their stored bullion. Storage charges for silver bars and silver coins with BullionStar are only 0.59% per annum.

All bullion is fully insured, and customer bars and coins are always handled under camera surveillance. In addition, BullionStar employs an extensive series of auditing approaches to continually confirm the existence of all bullion products. Storing silver bars and silver coins in Singapore is therefore an attractive proposition, and at the same time a safe and simple process to undertake.

For a comprehensive overview of the benefits of buying silver bars or silver coins as a form of investment or savings, please see BullionStar guide "Why Invest in Silver".

New Release Now Available! Australian Lunar Series 2018

Background

It's that time of the year again where the Perth Mint unveils its' lineup for the year ahead. Today, we will be focusing on the latest release of the much loved Lunar Series – the 2018 Australian Lunar Series Year of the Dog. This release is part of the second lunar series released by the Perth Mint, which consists of lunar coins minted from 2008 to 2019. We are excited to bring in these coins and they are available for ordering now.

The Chinese Zodiac series, or the “Sheng Xiao”, is a circle of 12 animals that links each year to a particular animal. Each animal is thought to possess different character and personality traits that are often seen in individuals born that year. Those who are born in the Year of the Dog are said to be honest, friendly and have a strong sense of responsibility. People born in 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006 and 2018 are said to be born in the Year of the Dog.

First Look: Gold

gold_coin_perth_mint_lunar_dog_2018_1oz_front

The Lunar Dog coins have continued the tradition of “less is more” and we think it looks great! The gold coins feature a Labrador retriever proudly standing on rocks with a stylized pine tree in the background. The design also incorporates the Chinese character for "Dog", the inscription "Year of the Dog", and The Perth Mint's traditional "P" mintmark. Kudos to the Perth Mint for going with a classic interpretation of the animal. The designer portrayed the animal in its’ natural surroundings with a clean and simple background. By continuing with the classic design seen in the previous editions, the Lunar Dog coins should perform well in terms of sales.

Mintage

As with previous editions, the one ounce denomination has a limited mintage of just 30,000 globally and is expected to sell out quickly like the previous years. For the other denominations, the mintage is unlimited. That means that the Perth Mint will mint the coins for the entire of 2018 and will declare the final mintage at the end of the year. Mintages for fractionals are usually low. For example, the 2016 Year of the Monkey ½ oz gold coin had a mintage of only 11,947.

First Look: Silver

silver_coin_perth_mint_lunar_dog_1oz_front

The silver edition is equally stunning. As with previous editions, The Perth Mint has created two different interpretations for the gold and silver editions. The silver coin depicts a German shepherd dog and its’ puppy lying on grass with Chinese peony flowers in the background. The design also incorporates the Chinese character for Dog, the inscription "Year of the Dog" and The Perth Mint's traditional "P" mintmark.

Mintage

As with previous editions, the one ounce denomination has a limited mintage of 300,000 that is guaranteed to sell out. For the other denominations, the mintage is unlimited. This means that the Perth Mint will mint the coins for the entire of 2018 and will declare the final mintage at the end of the year. Mintages for other denominations are usually low. For example, the 2016 Year of the Monkey 2 oz silver coin had a mintage of only 34,368.

Availability

Our first shipment of lunar gold and silver coins will be arriving soon and the following denominations are ready for ordering:

Gold
2 oz Australian Gold Lunar 2018
0.5 oz Australian Gold Lunar 2018
0.25 oz Australian Gold Lunar 2018
0.10 oz Australian Gold Lunar 2018
0.05 oz Australian Gold Lunar 2018

Silver
1 kg Australian Silver Lunar 2018
10 oz Australian Silver Lunar 2018
5 oz Australian Silver Lunar 2018
2 oz Australian Silver Lunar 2018
1 oz Australian Silver Lunar 2018
0.5 oz Australian Silver Lunar 2018

Collectors always lament how the prices for previous editions are much higher after the year has passed. It is noteworthy how the high premiums of past editions are resilient even during periods of lower spot prices. Hence, if you are looking to collect yearly and complete your set, don't wait! For the Perth Mint Lunar Series coins, waiting is not a good idea if you want to get the coins at a reasonable price as they tend to trade at a higher premium above spot compared to other coins due to their relative rarity.

We only have a limited quantity for each denomination available so place your orders now before the coins sell out!

Additional Gold & Silver & Platinum Coins GST-free in Singapore

Starting 1 September 2016, the exemption of gold, silver and platinum coins from Goods and Services Tax (GST) in Singapore has been extended. The following coins, all available for ordering at BullionStar.com, are now available for purchase without any GST.

The updated IRAS Guide on Exemption of Investment Precious Metals (IPM) can be found here.

United Kingdom Gold Queen's Beast 2016 - 1 oz 

The 1 oz Queens' Beast gold coin is the first of ten coins in a newly released series by the British Royal Mint featuring the heraldic beasts that stood guard at The Queen's coronation. Each 1 oz Queen's Beast is minted in .9999 fine gold and is legal tender at £100. With the coin priced as a bullion coin, it is expected to find its' way into both the hands of investors and collectors.

United Kingdom Gold Lunar Monkey 2016 - 1 oz

This is the third coin released by the United Kingdom Royal Mint as part of its' Lunar Series program. The series began in 2014 with the release of the UK Gold Lunar Horse and has attracted investors and collectors alike who are impressed with the design of the coin, as well as the high quality of the finish. The front of the coin features a rhesus monkey swinging through the trees, along with the inscription "Year of the Monkey" . The UK Gold Lunar Monkey has a maximum mintage of just 8,888 coins.

Canadian Gold Growling Cougar 2015 - 1 oz

This coin is part of the "Call of the Wild" Series released by the Royal Canadian Mint in 2014. The series highlights animals living in the wild that have been hunted to near extinction. The Gold Growling Cougar 2015 is the second coin in the series. The coin is unique in that the purity of the gold used to mint the coin is 99.999% pure, making it one of the purest gold coins in the world. The coin is legal tender at CAD$200 which is an unusually high denomination.

Canadian Gold Roaring Grizzly Bear 2016 - 1 oz 

This coin is the third coin released in the "Call of the Wild" Series. Just like the 2015 edition, the Gold Roaring Grizzly Bear is minted in 99.999% pure gold and is legal tender at CAD$200.

United Kingdom Silver Queen's Beast 2016 - 2 oz 

The 2 oz Queen's Beast silver coin is the first of ten coins in a newly released series by the British Royal Mint featuring the heraldic beasts that stood guard at The Queen's coronation. Each 2 oz Queen's Beast silver coin is minted in .9999 fine silver and is legal tender at £5. 2 oz silver bullion coins are relatively rare. With the attractive design of this coin, it can be purchased for a combination of its investment and collectors' properties.

Armenian Silver Noah's Ark 2016 - 1 oz

The Armenian Silver Noah's Ark is one of the most price-worthy bullion coins on the market. The premium is very attractive and is on par or lower than other popular bullion coins like the Silver Maple and Silver Kangaroo. The coin has been minted since 2011. The Armenian Noah's Ark features a dove in flight with an olive branch and Noah's Ark floating on the flood waters. The coin is minted by the German mint, Geiger Edelmetalle. Each coin is minted in 1 oz of .999 fine silver and is legal tender at 500 Dram. Also available in 1/2 oz and 1/4 oz.

Australian Silver Kangaroo 2016 - 1 oz

The Silver Kangaroo is a new bullion release from the Perth Mint and follows in the footsteps of the popular Gold Kangaroo. The Silver Kangaroo features the iconic Australian Red Kangaroo, surrounded by outward radial lines. This enhances the image of the Kangaroo, rendering a 3D-like effect to the kangaroo. With the Silver Kangaroo now exempted from GST, the pricing of the coin is very competitive even compared to the popular Canadian Silver Maples. Each coin is minted in 1 oz of .9999 fine silver and is legal tender at AUD$1.

United Kingdom Silver Lunar Series 2016 - Year of the Monkey - 1 oz

This is the third coin released by the UK Royal Mint as part of its' Lunar Series program. The series was launched in 2014 with the release of the Lunar Horse and has attracted investors and collectors alike who are impressed with the design of the coin, as well as the high quality of the finish. The front of the coin features a rhesus monkey swinging through the trees, along with the inscription "Year of the Monkey". The UK Silver Lunar Monkey has a maximum mintage of just 138,888 coins. Each coin is minted in 1 oz of .999 fine silver and is legal tender at GBP£2.

Canadian Wildlife Peregrine Falcon 2014 - 1 oz

The Peregrine Falcon was the first coin released in the 4-coin "Birds of Prey" Series minted by the Royal Canadian Mint. The series depicts predators in action hunting for its' prey. The reverse of the coin depicts a Peregrine Falcon which can be seen on the coin ready to swoop down to catch its' prey. The mintage for each coin in the "Birds of Prey" series is limited to a maximum of just 1,000,000 coins. Each coin is minted in 1 oz of .9999 fine silver and is legal tender at CAD$5.

Canadian Wildlife Series - Great Horned Owl 2015 - 1 oz 

The Great Horned Owl was the fourth and final coin released in the 4-coin "Birds of Prey" Series minted by the Royal Canadian Mint. The reverse of the coin depicts a menacing Great Horned Howl, wings spread as it descends upon its prey, along with the weight and purity of the coin. Each coin is minted in 1 oz of .9999 fine silver and is legal tender at CAD$5.

Canadian Wildlife Series 2013 - Wood Bison - 1 oz

The Wood Bison was the sixth and final coin released in the Canadian Wildlife Series, a series of coins minted by the Royal Canadian Mint. The series depicted animals in their natural habitat and has proven to be very popular with collectors. The reverse of the coin depicts the Wood Bison, which can be seen galloping through the snow. The mintage for each coin in the Wildlife series is limited to a maximum of just 1,000,000 coins. Each coin is minted in 1 oz of .9999 fine silver and is legal tender at CAD$5.

Austrian Platinum Philharmonic 2016 - 1 oz

2016 is the inaugural year for the Platinum Philharmonic which follows the Gold Philharmonic, first released in 1989, and the Silver Philharmonic released in 2008.  The Platinum Philharmonic features the same loved design as the Gold Philharmonic and Silver Philharmonic. The obverse of the coin depicts the pipe organ in the Vienna Musikverein's Golden Hall. The reverse of the coin shows some of the instruments of the Vienna Philharmonic. Each coin is minted in 1 oz of .9995 fine platinum and is legal tender at €100.

Full official list of Gold Coins qualifying for GST exemption

(i) America Buffalo
(ii) Australia Kangaroo Nugget
(iii) Australia Lunar
(iv) Austria Philharmonic
(v) Canada Maple Leaf
(vi) China Panda
(vii) Malaysia Kijang Emas
(viii) Mexico Libertad
(ix) Singapore Lion
(x) United Kingdom Britannia
(xi) Canada Call of the Wild 3-coin series
(xii) United Kingdom Lunar
(xiii) United Kingdom The Queen's Beasts 10-coin series

Full Official list of Silver Coins qualifying for GST exemption

(i) America Eagle
(ii) Australia Kookaburra
(iii) Australia Koala
(iv) Australia Lunar
(v) Austria Philharmonic
(vi) Canada Maple Leaf
(vii) China Panda
(viii) Mexico Libertad
(ix) United Kingdom Britannia
(x) Australia Saltwater Crocodile
(xi) Canada Wildlife 6-coin series
(xii) Canada Birds of Prey 4-coin series
(xiii) United Kingdom Lunar
(xiv) Armenia Noah’s Ark
(xv) Australia Kangaroo
(xvi) United Kingdom The Queen's Beasts 10-coin series

Full official list of Platinum Coins qualifying for GST exemption

(i) America Eagle
(ii) Australia Koala
(iii) Australia Platypus
(iv) Canada Maple Leaf
(v) Austria Philharmonic

The World’s largest Precious Metals Refineries

There are many precious metals refineries throughout the world, some local to their domestic markets, and some international, even global in scale. Many, but by no means all, of these refineries are on the Good Delivery Lists of gold and/or silver. These lists are maintained by the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) and they identify accredited refineries of large (wholesale) gold and silver bars that continue to meet rigorous proficient standards of refining and assaying, and that are, at the same time, financial viable and stable companies. Currently, there are 71 refiners on the LBMA’s gold Good Delivery List and 81 refiners on its silver Good Delivery List, or which just over 50 of these refineries are accredited to both the LBMA’s gold and silver lists.

But within the top echelons of the world’s precious metals refineries, a number of names stand out due to their sheer scale and pedigree, as well as their global brand recognition in the production of a wide range of investment grade gold and silver bullion bars. These names include PAMP, Argor-Heraeus, Metalor Technologies, Heraeus, Valcambi, Tanaka Kikinzoku Kogyo, and Rand Refinery.

5000 Tonnes of Gold

Together these seven refinery groups have a combined gold refining capacity approaching a mammoth 5000 tonnes per year. And that’s not even taking into account their refining capacity for other precious metals such as silver and platinum. Valcambi has a gold refining capacity of 1600 tonnes per annum, Metalor 800 tonnes, Heraeus 400 to 500 tonnes, PAMP over 450 tonnes, Argor-Heraeus over 400 tonnes, Tanaka 500 tonnes, and Rand Refinery 600 tonnes.

Notably four of these refineries are based in the gold refining powerhouse of Switzerland, of which three, PAMP, Valcambi and Argor-Heraeus, are clustered literally within a few kilometres from each other in the golden triangle of Swiss refineries centred within the very south of the Swiss canton of Ticino near the Swiss-Italian border. Metalor Technologies is the exception, as its Swiss headquarters facility is based in Neuchâtel, in the north-west of Switzerland. Of the non-Swiss refineries, Heraeus, Tanaka and Rand Refinery, these are headquartered in Germany, Japan and South Africa, respectively.

crucible
Gold Refineries, Heraeus, PAMP, Valcambi, Metalor, Argor-Heraeus, Tanaka, Rand Refinery

International in Scale and Ownership

Although three of the four giant Swiss refineries have historically each been owned by a Swiss bank, and although groups such as Heraeus and Tanaka are still privately owned and controlled by founding shareholders, its important to note that none of these giant refineries are purely local concerns, so their headquarters locations are to some extent a secondary concern. From operating facilities, to metal supplier networks, to customer bases, all of these refineries are now absolutely global in nature.

For example, Metalor operates four precious metals refineries globally, in Switzerland, Hong Kong, Singapore and Massachusetts (US). Heraeus runs gold refining and gold bar production facilities in Hanau (Germany), Hong Kong, and Newark (US). In addition to its Swiss refinery, PAMP, part of the Geneva-based MKS PAMP group, runs a joint venture refinery in New Delhi, in conjunction with MMTC, a large state-owned Indian trading company.

In many cases, the ownership of these refineries is international and cross-border in nature, and increasingly so over the last few years. Agor-Heraeus is owned by the Austrian Mint and two German entities Commerzbank and Hereaus. In 2015, Valcambi was acquired by Indian jewellery producer Rajesh Exports, with one of the selling shareholders being US-based gold mining giant Newmont. Indeed, just last month, Tanaka announced the acquisition of Metalor Technologies, a development which has initiated an upcoming major Japanese - Swiss precious metals refinery combination. Metalor was already international in ownership, as its controlling shareholders are French and Belgian private equity companies. While Rand Refinery of South Africa is  exclusively owned by five of the largest South African gold mining companies, some of these owners, such as Anglogold Ashanti and Goldfields, are vast international concerns. Rand Refinery has also increasingly had to cast its new wider for sourcing gold to process in its refinery as South African gold mining output has declined. Rand Refinery now refines over 75% of the gold mined on the African continent (excluding South Africa), and is also increasingly tapping into gold mining output from the US and Asia.

The World's Refinery Referees

Another indicator of the esteem within which these select refineries are held is their membership of the exclusively small panels of good delivery list referees which have been appointed to run the LBMA’s good delivery lists, and similar good delivery lists maintained by the London Platinum and Palladium Market (LPPM) for platinum and palladium bars.

The LBMA’s good delivery referee panel is a five refinery member panel made up of Argor-Heraeus, Metalor Technologies, PAMP, Rand Refinery and Tanaka Kikinzoku Kogyo. The LPPM’s referee panel also comprises five refiner members, namely Metalor Technologies, PAMP, Valcambi, Tanaka Kikinzoku Kogyo and platinum specialist Johnson Matthey. So not only are these refineries listed on these LBMA and LPPM good delivery lists, they actually help run the entire set of good delivery standards and processes. With the upcoming acquisition of Metalor by Tanaka, these LBMA and LPPM referee lists may need some adjustment, since Tanaka and Metalor are members of both referee panels.

Overwhelmingly, the gold and silver bars of these refiners are all also accepted as good delivery for the COMEX gold 100 oz and gold kilo futures contracts, the gold contracts of the Tokyo Commodity Exchange (TOCOM), the Dubai Good Delivery gold list maintained by the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), and the good delivery standards of the Shanghai Gold Exchange.

Investment bullion bars

Although all of these precious metals refineries, to various extents, supply semi-fabricated precious metals, alloys and industrial precious metals suppliers to a diverse set of industrial and jewellery sector clients, it is perhaps the investment grade bullion products of these giant refiners that they are best known to a global audience.

PAMP fabricates a vast range of cast and minted gold and silver bars which are extremely popular across Asia and the Middle East, in fact, the premier brand in those regions. Valcambi manufactures a wide range of gold, silver and platinum / palladium investment bars, as well as precious metal coins and medals, and has become well-known as the international supplier of Combibars. Heraeus, Metalor and Argor-Heraeus produce a wide selection of gold and silver bars ranging from large wholesale (good delivery) bars through to smaller cast and minted gold and silver bars. Tanaka’s gold bars dominate the Japanese market and notably, Tanaka is also the sole distributor in Japan of gold and silver bullion Maple Leafs coins from the Royal Canadian Mint and gold and platinum Philharmonic coins from the Austrian Mint. Tanaka's acquisition of Metalor will be interesting in terms of how the combined group markets and distributes its investment bullion products going forward.

It's also not widely appreciated that Rand Refinery has refined over 50,000 tonnes of gold since it first opened in 1921, which is a staggering nearly one-third of all the gold ever mined. Rand Refinery large gold bars are held widely by central banks across the world. Rand Refinery’s flagship gold bullion Krugerrand coin is also held very widely, with over 60 million Krugerrands minted since 1967.

This article has not touched on the Perth Mint, Royal Canadian Mint or Royal Mint, which its important to remember, each operates its own precious metals refinery facilities in addition to being a sovereign national mint.

In summary, the seven refineries featured above are truly giants of the industry, and their longevity and customer trust attest to the authenticity and quality of their investment bullion products.

To learn more about the world's top precious metals refineries featured in this article, please see the full refinery profiles which have now been published on BullionStar's Gold University pages:

Heraeus: https://www.bullionstar.com/gold-university/heraeus-refinery

PAMP: https://www.bullionstar.com/gold-university/pamp-refinery

Valcambi: https://www.bullionstar.com/gold-university/valcambi-refinery

Metalor: https://www.bullionstar.com/gold-university/metalor-refinery

Argor-Heraeus: https://www.bullionstar.com/gold-university/argor-heraeus-refinery

Tanaka Kikinzoku Kogyo: https://www.bullionstar.com/gold-university/tanaka-refinery

Rand Refinery: https://www.bullionstar.com/gold-university/rand-refinery

In addition, the refining activities of the Royal Mint, Royal Canadian Mint and Perth Mint can be consulted in their respective profiles, also on BullionStar's Gold University pages:

Royal Mint: https://www.bullionstar.com/gold-university/the-royal-mint

Perth Mint: https://www.bullionstar.com/gold-university/perth-mint

Royal Canadian Mint: https://www.bullionstar.com/gold-university/royal-canadian-mint

 

Bullion coin sales boost revenues of world’s largest Mints

The world’s major precious metals mints are currently riding high on the back of extremely strong global bullion coin demand and relatively buoyant gold and silver prices. These mints are predominantly run as commercial enterprises. The sheer scale of revenues that the US Mint, Royal Canadian Mint (RCM), Perth Mint and Austrian Mint have been generating over the last number of years is eye-opening. Not surprisingly, due to their high value nature, revenues from bullion coin sales account for the lion’s share of total revenues for each institution and have been a core driver of their overall profitability.

Official Bullion Coin Programs

Each of these four mints has an official bullion coin program. The US Mint’s program consists of the production and sales of American Eagle Silver bullion coins, American Eagle gold bullion coins, American Buffalo gold bullion coins, America the Beautiful silver coins, and American Eagle Platinum coins. RCM's bullion coin program comprises gold, silver, platinum and palladium Maple Leaf bullion coins, as well as the recently added MapleGrams.

The Perth Mint bullion program is slightly more extensive and briefly consists of the following: Australian Kangaroo gold and silver coin series, Australian Kookaburra silver coin series, Australian Koala silver coin series, Australian Platypus platinum coin series, Australian Lunar gold and Australian Lunar silver coin series. The flagship of the Austrian Mint's bullion program is the Vienna Philharmonic gold bullion coin series, but the mint also produces the Vienna Philharmonic as a silver and platinum bullion coin, as well as historical re-strikes of original Austrian circulation gold ducats, gold guilders and gold crowns.

Bullion Coin Sales Drive Revenues

In fiscal 2015 (to September 30), the US Mint generated revenues of US$2.12 billion on its bullion coin sales. This represented 57.6% of the Mint’s total 2015 revenues of US$ 3.69 billion. Revenues from gold Eagles totalled $979.6 million, silver Eagle sales added $785.4 million, and gold American Buffalos contributed another $252.2 million in revenues.

In 2015, the RCM’s Gold Maple Leaf coin sales generated revenues of CA$1.41 billion while the Silver Maple Leaf coins added a further CA$687 million, giving a combined revenue of CA$2.1 billion. This represented over 80% of RCM’s total bullion revenues in 2015, and nearly 71% of RCM’s total 2015 group revenues.

The Austrian Mint’s annual report for 2015 is not out yet but will be published in early July. For calendar 2014, the Austrian Mint generated revenues of €1.14 billion. The biggest revenue contributors were gold bullion coin sales of €464.2 million and gold bar sales of €391.7 million. Together the Austrian’s Mint’s gold coin and bar sales represented a combined 75% of total mint revenues.

However, profit margins on the mints’ bullion coin sales are relatively small. For example, in fiscal year 2015, the US Mint only generated bullion income of $61.1 million on bullion revenue of $2.126 billion, so this was a margin of 2.87%. Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that the bullion sales of these mints, both in coins and bars, supply a global distribution network of precious metals wholesalers, bullion dealers and banks on the downstream side, as well as a chain of precious metals suppliers, refineries and gold miners upstream. Not to forget the ultimate beneficiaries of bullion sales, the investors and collectors. There is therefore an entire virtuous ecosystem built around the bullion coin output of these giant precious metals mints.

Furthermore, an often overlooked point is that with all four of these mints, profits from operations can and often do go to the mints’ owners in the form of either transfers or dividends. For three of the mints, their owners are governments. For the Austrian Mint it is owned by a government-owned central bank, which is essentially the same thing.

Maples

Government Ownership and Dividends

The US Mint is part of the US Department of the Treasury, and reports to the Office of the Treasurer. The Mint is structured as a Public Enterprise Fund (PEF) under 31 U.S.C. § 5136 and generates its own revenues without the need for Federal appropriations. Any revenue that the US Mint deems to be excess to it’s needs is transferred to the Treasury General Fund.

For fiscal year 2015 (to September 30), the US Mint transferred $561 million to the Treasury General Fund, however $11 million of this was income from numismatic / bullion products, as the rest was a seigniorage transfer from the sale of circulating coins to the Federal Reserve Banks. But interesting, this $11 million can actually be used to reduce the US Treasury’s budget deficit.

The Royal Canadian Mint (RCM), a federal Crown corporation of the Government of Canada, is 100% owned by the Canadian Government and reports to the Canadian Department of Finance. Like the US Mint, the RCM is not funded by the Government and is predominantly run as a commercial organization except for the Canadian circulation coin program which since 2014 has been operated on a non-profit basis. Although the RCM made a small loss in fiscal 2015 (its year-end is December 31) due to a one-off impairment, it still paid dividends of CA$53 million to the Government of Canada which was a lot higher than previous years due to strong Maple Leaf coin sales.

The Perth Mint, through a holding company called Gold Corporation, is 100% owned by the Government of Western Australia. Western Australia is a state within the Commonwealth of Australia. The Perth Mint group operates on a fully commercial basis and is self-funding. In its fiscal 2015 results to June 30, the Mint made a profit after tax of AU$14 million and also paid a dividend of AU$10.54 million to the Government of Western Australia.

The Austrian Mint (Münze Österreich) is fully owned by Austria’s central bank, the Oesterreichische Nationalbank (OeNB). The OeNB’s capital is itself fully owned by the Austrian government. Although the Austrian Mint 2015 annual report is not yet published, the Austrian central bank has already reported that for 2015, it received a regular dividend of a cool €89 million from the Austrian Mint. In 2014, the Austrian Mint paid the central bank an even bigger dividend of €184.8 million out of its net profit.

collage-silver-coins-and-gold-bars

Silver - Gold Production Ratio

The relative importance of gold and silver bullion coin sales varies across each mint and between years since each Mint’s bullion program differs, and demand patterns ebb and flow.

In 2015, the US Mint sold 801,500 ounces (24.93 tonnes) of gold American Eagles and 220,500 ounces (6.86 tonnes) of gold American Buffalos, for total gold bullion coin sales of 1,022,000 ounces (31.79 tonnes). Silver American Eagle sales reached 47 million ounces (1,461.85 tonnes) in 2015, with another 1,060,000 ounces (32.97 tonnes) of America the Beautiful 5 oz coins sold, bringing total US Mint silver bullion coin sales to 48.06 million ounces (1,494.82 tonnes).

Using a metric of silver ounces sold compared to gold ounces sold, this gives a silver to gold coin sales ratio of 47:1 for the US Mint. In 2015, the RCM sold 953,000 ounces of gold Maple Leaf bullion coins (29.6 tonnes), and 34.3 million ounces (1067 tonnes) of silver Maple Leaf bullion coins, giving a silver to gold coin sales ratio of 36 for the RCM. Therefore applied to 2015, it is justifiable for the US Mint to say that it was the world’s largest seller of gold bullion coins and silver bullion coins.

Although the Austrian Mint hasn’t published its full 2015 bullion sales statistics yet, it did reveal to Bloomberg earlier this year that its combined gold coin and gold bars sales for 2015 totalled 1.32 million ounces (41 tonnes), and its combined silver sales in 2015 totalled 7.3 million ounces (227 tonnes). This would give a general silver to gold ratio for the Austrian Mint of only 5.53, which highlights the Austrian Mint’s relative concentration on gold bullion over silver bullion.

In 2014, the Austrian Mint sold 483,700 ounces (15 tonnes) of gold coins, mainly Vienna Philharmonics, and 410,364 ounces of gold bars (12.75 tonnes). Total gold sold was therefore 894,000 ounces (27.75 tonnes). The Mint’s silver coin sales approximated 144.4 tonnes of silver in 2014. This would give a silver to gold coin ratio of 9.63 and a silver coin to total gold (coins and bars) ratio of 5.2.

Overall, the world’s largest mints are a useful source of income for their government owners. More importantly though, these Mints actually make the valuable and high quality investment gold and silver coins and bars that are in such high demand right now, and that also provide tangible economic benefits such as employing large numbers of people around the world in highly skilled jobs.

To learn more about the world's top Mints, please see full profiles of these Mints which have now been published on BullionStar's Gold University pages:

United States Mint: http://www.bullionstar.com/gold-university/united-states-mint

Royal Canadian Mint: https://www.bullionstar.com/gold-university/royal-canadian-mint

Perth Mint: http://www.bullionstar.com/gold-university/perth-mint

Austrian Mint http://www.bullionstar.com/gold-university/austrian-mint