2020: Stellar year for bullion coin sales by the major national Mints
The year 2020 was a very strong one for bullion coins sales by the major national mints, with the US Mint, Perth Mint and Royal Canadian Mint (RCM) all seeing phenomenally strong sales across both gold bullion coins and silver bullion coins.
Gold sales more than doubled at the Perth Mint and Royal Canadian Mint, while increasing by a massive 500% at the US Mint. The US Mint also took the lead in sales volume increases in silver, more than doubling its 2019 volumes. During 2020, the Perth Mint boosted silver sales by 42%, while the Royal Canadian Mint (based on the first three quarters of 2020) increased silver sales volumes by 34%.
Together the three mints shipped 87 tonnes of gold and 2359 tonnes of silver out the door to the market. (Note, as the RCM reports with a lag, the RCM volumes from the 4th quarter are annualized based on the first three quarters).
Now for the details:
The US Mint is famous for its American Gold Eagle and American Silver Eagle bullion coins, as well as the American Gold Buffalo coin.
US Mint gold and silver sales surged ahead in 2020 compared to recent years, with the Mint selling 1,086,000 troy ozs (33.78 tonnes) of gold coins across the Gold Eagle and Gold Buffalo bullion programs, and 30 million ozs within the US Silver Eagle coin program. This represented gold bullion coin sales that were a whopping 509% higher than volumes in 2019, and silver bullion coin sales over twice as high as in 2019.
While these sales and production figures were impressive, they were even more so given that the US Mint’s West Point production facility was at times closed during 2020 due to coronavirus shutdowns such as in April.
Specifically, during 2020, the US Mint sold 844,000 ozs of US Gold Eagles across the 1 oz, ½ oz, ¼ oz and 1/10 oz denominations, and 242,000 ozs of the 1 oz Gold Buffalo coin. Of the US Gold Eagle sales, 747,500 ozs (or 88%) were in the 1 oz Gold Eagle weight. The highest sales months were in March, August and July. As a comparison, in 2019, the Mint sold 152,000 oz in the Gold Eagle program and 61,500 ozs in the Gold Buffalo program, or 213,500 oz in total. This means that during 2020, the US Mint increased Gold Eagle coin sales by 555% and Gold Buffalo coin sales by 393% compared to 2019.
Admittedly, 2019 was a weak sales year for US Mint gold bullion coins, but with these 2020 figures, the US Mint is returning to sales volumes seen earlier in the last decade, e.g. in 2012, 2015 and 2016.
Turning to silver, in 2020 the US Mint sold 30,089,500 Silver Eagle coins, all of which were in the 1 oz denomination. That’s equivalent to 936 tonnes of silver. The highest monthly sales totals for the US Silver Eagle in 2020 were recorded in March, August and November, although demand was generally strong across the entire year. As a comparison, in 2019 the Mint recorded US Silver Eagle sales of 14,863,500 ozs or 462 tonnes.
Monthly data on US Mint bullion program sales can be seen on the US Mint’s website here.
The Perth Mint is famous for the Australian Gold Kangaroo and Gold Lunar series of gold bullion coins, and the Australian Silver Kangaroo series, Silver Lunar series, and Australian Silver Koala series silver bullion coins.
For the 12 months to end of December 2020, Australia’s Perth Mint recorded gold coin and gold bar sales of 778,797 troy ounces (24.2 tonnes), a 100% increase on the 389,463 ozs that it sold in 2019, and 93.7% more than the 402,049 ozs of gold bullion that the Mint sold in 2018.
Silver coin and silver bar sales by the Perth Mint over 2020 totalled 16,452,490 troy ounces (511.7 tonnes), which was 42% more than the 11,573,602 ounces of silver bullion coins and bars the Mint sold in 2019, and 78% more than the 9,243,058 ounces that it sold in 2018.
For gold, the Perth Mint’s highest monthly sales in 2020 were in April (120,504 troy ozs), March (93,775 troy ozs) and November (84,158 troy ozs), but December was also very strong with 76,806 troy ozs of gold coins and gold bars shipped by the Mint.
For silver, the strongest sales months of 2020 were also April (2,123,121 ozs) and March (1,736,409 ozs), a period which coincided with financial market panic, stress in the London and COMEX gold and silver markets, and precious metals refinery closures.
According to the Perth Mint, average monthly gold and silver sales in 2020 were “48% and 56% higher than long-term averages.”
Royal Canadian Mint
Unlike the US Mint and Perth Mint, the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM) does not publish regular weekly or monthly updates about its bullion sales volumes, but instead reveals some of this information in its annual and quarterly reports.
Taking the three quarterly reports published so far for 2020, in the first quarter RCM said that “due to the economic uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, global market demand for bullion led to higher bullion volumes”. This allowed the RCM to record first quarter 2020 gold bullion sales volumes of 198,100 ozs, a 60% increase on the 123,800 ozs sold in Q1 2019, while Q1 2020 silver volumes reached 6.6 million ozs, a 20% increase on the 5.5 million ozs sold in Q1 2019.
In the second quarter of 2020, the RCM said that it “was able to increase its revenue by 90% as a result of strong global market demand for bullion.” Q2 2020 sales volumes in gold increased by 132%, totalling 196,500 ozs versus 84,600 oz for the same period in 2019, while Q2 2020 silver sales volumes rose by 67% to 7.2 million oz, versus 4.3 million in the corresponding period in 2019.
In its latest quarterly report for the third quarter of 2020, published on 23 November, the RCM says that is increased third quarter revenue by 115% (from CA$ 370.1 mn to CA$ 795 mn), again using the identical wording “as a result of the strong global market demand for bullion”.
Third quarter gold bullion volumes totalled 300,100 ozs, more than three times the 96,300 ozs recorded in the same period 2019, while silver volumes were 8.2 million ozs vs 6.6 million oz in the third quarter 2019.
Adding these three quarters together, this means that for the first nine months of 2020, the RCM sold 694,700 ozs of gold and 22 million ozs of silver, which are increases of 128% and 34%, respectively, compared to the first three quarters of 2019. Annualizing these figures for the full year 2020 would give full year gold sales volumes of 926,267 ozs (28.8 tonnes), and 29.3 million ozs (911 tonnes) of silver sales volume.
Note that for the full year 2019, the RCM sold 483,000 ozs of gold and 22.8 million ozs of silver, so 2020 looks like a year in which the RCM will at least double its gold bullion sales.
Note that the Royal Mint of Britain and the Austrian Mint could not be included in the above analysis as they do not publish regular data about their bullion sales during the year, and only do so in their forthcoming annual reports for 2020.
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