Royal Canadian Mint sees gold in the penny’s demise – by Tavia Grant (Globe and Mail – February 4, 2013)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

Goodbye, Canadian penny. Hello, Botswanan pula? The end of the penny has given the Royal Canadian Mint 20 per cent more capacity, and it plans to put it to use producing other countries’ coins.

The Mint struck its final penny last May after the federal government announced it would kill the coin as a cost-saving measure. Monday marks beginning of the penny’s phase-out as the Mint will stop distributing them to retailers and banks.

So it’s circulating a new growth strategy. The Mint already has about 10-per-cent share in the global coin market “and our goal is to increase that to 15 per cent by 2020,” chief operating officer Beverley Lepine said in an interview from Berlin, where she is attending the 2013 World Money Fair.

The 105-year-old Mint has been making coins for other countries for more than three decades. In 2000, it introduced a new plated steel technology that it says makes coins cheaper to produce, harder to counterfeit and more durable. Since then, 30 countries including Botswana, Panama, New Zealand, Oman, Ethiopia, Barbados and Fiji have signed contracts to have multi-ply plated steel circulation coins made in Canada.

The Crown corporation – whose stated vision is to be the best mint in the world – is the world’s largest commercial mint as measured by revenue, profit and number of employees, Ms. Lepine said. It has about 1,100 employees. (Other countries, including the United States, have larger mints but they don’t have a commercial mandate.)

Foreign business accounts for about 12 per cent of the Mint’s total revenue, with most of its sales generated by its bullion business.

Competition is fierce, though. There are about 48 mints in the world, and about a dozen of those, such as the Dutch and Finnish mints, are also vying to win more global business.

The Canadian mint is expanding its Winnipeg coin-plating facility, a move that will boost capacity by 50 per cent as it bids to attract more overseas customers.

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