Source: Forbes – World Mints Sees Unprecedented Demand For Silver Coins In 2013
The sharp drop in the price of gold and silver in early 2013 unleashed a wave of pent up demand, which was clearly seen in the sale of silver coins.
The U.S. Mint, Royal Canadian Mint and the Perth Mint all reported extremely high sales of their silver coins.
Victor Thianpiriya, commodity strategist at ANZ Research, said he is not surprised that silver sales hit records in 2013. Not only have the lower prices enticed consumers to buy more physical metal, but in India, for example, consumers have been substituting silver for gold because of strict imports put in place in mid-2013.
“The import restrictions in India were focused primarily on gold so consumers ended up turning to silver,” he said.
Keith Weiner, president of the Gold Standard Institute and chief executive officer of Monetary Metals, said the banking crisis in Cyprus earlier in the year highlighted the fragility of the banking system. A lot of people ended buying other assets to preserve their wealth and because of its lower price to gold, silver has always been a popular alternative as another currency, he added.
Although the crisis has abated since March, Weiner said there is still a strong distrust of the global banking system, which is why consumers and investors are buying on price drops.
“If you hold a silver coin you aren’t a creditor to the banking system,” he said. “You are holding a real piece of money.”
Out of the top three global mints, the U.S. Mint was the clear winner in volume, selling 42.4 million one-ounce American Eagle silver coins since January.
The U.S. Mint hit its new sales record in mid-November when it reported sales of 40.175 million, surpassing the previous record set in 2011, when it sold 39.869 million coins.
The U.S. Mint saw average monthly sales of 3.5 million coins. The busiest month was January, with 7.498 million one-ounce coins sold, and November was the slowest month, with 2.3 million coins sold. For December, the Mint has reported sales of 1.2 million coins as of Dec. 16.
The Canadian Royal Mint comes in second place for its silver coin sales; however, the data does not include the last three months of the year. As the end of September, the Canadian Mint reported total sales of 19.7 million ounces of its Silver Maple Leaf coins in 2013.
Just looking at the third quarter, ending Sept. 28, the Canadian Mint reported silver sales of 6.7 million ounces, an increase compared to 2012’s third quarter sales of 4.8 million ounces.
Chris Carkner, managing director of sales, bullion, refinery services & ETR at the Canadian Mint said that they are on pace to surpass 2011’s sales record of 23.1 million ounces.
“Silver Maple Leaf coin demand continues to be very strong in key markets such as Canada, the U.S. and Europe,” the Mint said in its third quarter financial report. “The Mint cannot predict the precious metals market, but performance of the bullion… business should remain robust.”
2013 was also an important milestone for the Canadian Mint as its Silver Maple Leaf coin celebrated its quarter-of-a-century-anniversary. In November, to commemorate the occasion, the Mint released a special edition silver coin.
The Perth Mint comes in third place, selling 7.799 million ounces of silver in 2013, as of November.
Perth’s busiest month was in April when the Mint sold 1.113 million ounces. April was also when silver prices fell 21% from a high of $27.965 an ounce on April 10 a low of $22.000 six days later.
The Perth Mint’s monthly sales average about 708,000 ounces; March was the slowest month, with sales of 408,000 ounces.
The Perth Mint is moving forward with its plans to break ground on a new silver blank production facility, which is expected to be operational by 2015.
Although 2013 has been a strong year for the silver market, executives at the Mint remain hesitant about the future.
“If indeed there is a resurgence of confidence in the world economy and an expectation of steady and increasing economic growth in the world, then worse lies ahead for precious metals,” said Edward Harbuz, chief executive officer in the Mint’s 2013 year in review. “Of course, the future is particularly uncertain at the moment. Perhaps the positive scenario described above is not to be. Perhaps the recovery in the USA will be less convincing than expected, perhaps the underlying problems in the euro zone, which have not really been addressed, will cause further crises in the future…”