* Sales of Mint's investment coins on record pace in 2013
* US Mint buying all coin blanks suppliers can provide
* American Eagle platinum bullion sales seen resuming in '14
By Frank Tang
WEST POINT, N.Y., June 5 The appetite for U.S.
American Eagle gold and silver bullion coins is still at
unprecedentedly high levels almost two months after a historic
sell-off in gold unleashed years of pent-up demand from retail
investors, the head of the U.S. Mint said on Wednesday.
His comments are likely to allay concerns among some traders
that frenzied buying by mom-and-pop investors since mid-April -
after prices plunged to two-year lows - had started to fade.
Interest in bullion coins, which target investors, has
helped gold prices recover to a key support level around $1,400
an ounce, after a better economic outlook and lack of inflation
prompted institutional investors to flee the futures market and
"Demand right now is unprecedented. We are buying all the
coin (blanks) they can make," Richard Peterson, U.S. Mint's
acting director, said in an interview inside the Mint's
production facility in West Point, New York, referring to the
Sales of gold and silver bullion coins, including the
popular 22-karat American Eagle and the 24-karat American
Buffalo, are on pace to hit a record 45 million coins this year,
said Peterson, head of the Treasury Department agency since
The Mint sold about 35 million bullion coins in 2012.
The Mint, one of the world's top producers of gold and
silver coins, may resume making American Eagle platinum bullion
coins in 2014 after receiving requests from dealers, who have
seen renewed investor interest in platinum, he said. It has not
made the coins since 2008 due to low demand.
Platinum's prices have sharply outperformed gold and silver
on much improved U.S. and Asian auto markets and supply fears
caused by mine violence in top producer South Africa. More than
half of the world's annual platinum output is used in auto
catalytic converters to clean harmful tailpipe emissions.
Year to date, the price of platinum is down around 2
percent, while gold is down 16 percent and silver
is 26 percent lower.
The West Point Mint, the U.S. Mint's main producer of
American Eagle gold and silver coins, has been working overtime
to cope with a sudden surge in demand since gold's $225 drop on
April 12 and 15, Peterson said.
The U.S. Mint has been limiting sales of the American Eagle
silver coins to dealers on an "allocation" basis since January,
and it had briefly halted sales of its one-tenth ounce gold
Eagle in May.
Peterson said its supply of coin blanks for the small gold
coins was depleted even though the Mint had stocked twice prior
to mid April.
"We don't want to have inventory laying around that we are
not going to be using, so we walk a fine line between having too
much and having enough," he said.
"When the prices fell so dramatically, demand for that one
particular denomination more than doubled and sold out," said
Peterson said he expects the current premium to authorized
dealers - set at 3 percent on each one-ounce American Eagle
bullion gold coin and $2 on one-ounce silver bullion coins - to
stay the same, reflecting the cost of minting and operation.