The Perth Mint is set to spend $16 million to expand its manufacturing facilities, in response to increasing demand for bullion and precious metal blanks, which are used to make coins.
Perth Mint chief executive Edward Harbuz said most of the $16 million would be spent on coin manufacturing equipment, with the construction cost of the expansion to come in around $5.5 million.
Around 90 per cent of the Perth Mint's production is exported, to a network of banks and financial institutions across New Zealand, Europe, North America, Japan, South East Asia, China, Russia, Ukraine and the Middle East.
Products created for offshore markets by Perth Mint, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Gold Corporation, include collector coins as well as precious metal blanks, which are then used to make legal tender by international mints.
Germany is Perth Mint’s largest investment coin market, while China and Eastern Europe are its top export markets for collector coins.
“We’re expanding our existing factory to increase production of precious metal blanks,” Mr Harbuz told Business News.
“The one thing that is an interesting fact is that one of our major markets for both bullion and numismatic coins is Germany, and of Australia’s exports to Germany, our coins constitute about 50 per cent.
"In one way that it’s good for us, but maybe Australia should be exporting more to Germany in general."
The facility is scheduled to be operational by the first quarter of next year, with construction to start over the next few weeks.
Mr Harbuz said the expansion had been in the works for around 12 months.
“A lot of the equipment comes from Europe so the lead times are quite long,” he said.
“The total investment is about $16 million, including the factory.”
Premier Colin Barnett was on hand at Perth Mint today to officially open its new exhibition space, which features a one tonne gold coin worth $50 million on permanent display.
The exhibition space was part of the mint's previous $5.5 million redevelopment, which was completed in two stages.
Features of the new space include the $50 million coin, a $25 million display of natural and refined gold, as well as scheduled gold pours and coin minting.
The Perth Mint was founded in 1899 and today attracts around 80,000 visitors each year.
Over the 2012-13 financial year, the mint refined more than 300 tonnes of precious metals, sold 4.3 million gold, silver and platinum coins and reported close to $3 billion worth of holdings in its depository.
"As well as its role as a leading exporter, the Perth Mint is an invaluable resource on the role gold has played in the economic development of Western Australia," Mr Barnett said.