Australia’s 1-Ton Gold 'Roo' Coin Enters Record Books
Gold coins sales at The Perth Mint may have fallen in the past three months as investors remain wary amid continued market volatility but staff at Australia's oldest producer of precious metal coins have reason to be upbeat: their one metric ton 2012 gold coin featuring a bounding red Kangaroo just won the title of the world's largest by the Guinness World Records.
"We faced an incredible challenge to produce a coin of this scale, so this is a wonderful endorsement of the talent and expertise of those involved," said Ed Harbuz, Perth Mint Chief Executive Officer.
Cast from 99.99 percent pure gold extracted from Australian mines, the coin weighs a total of 1,012 kilograms and measures 80 centimeters wide and 13 centimeters deep. The coin was made earlier this year in the presence of experts from the fields of metal assaying, numismatics — or coin collecting — quality assurance, and scale calibration and weighing, who verified the specifications of the coin.
And with its colossal currency, The Perth Mint knocks out reigning title holder, the Royal Canadian Mint, who held the record for the past five years with its Maple Leaf 100-kilogram gold bullion coin.
Australia's iconic national animal, "was a natural choice" for the giant coin as the marsupial has been a consistent feature of the Australian Kangaroo Gold Bullion Coin Series 1 kilo release for 25 years, Harbuz said.
The record-breaking coin's smaller and more affordable brethren, however, have been having a tough time due to adverse market conditions. Gold, perceived as a store of value since Biblical times, has been swept up in a broader 'risk-off' selling as the debt crisis in the euro zone deepens. (Related: Who Has the Most Gold?)
The precious metal has erased its gains for this year and has fallen 5.6 percent this quarter, on track for its biggest decline since 2004. Inversely-correlated to the U.S. dollar, bullion has also been hit by the rising greenback as the Federal Reserve held off from announcing further debt purchases.
Dip In Sales
"Due to the ongoing uncertainty in Europe, investors are becoming more cautious, which is affecting precious metal sales," said a Perth Mint spokesperson. "As a result, The Perth Mint has seen a dip in gold coin sales in the past three months compared to sales generated in the same period last year."
Gold coin sales (bullion and collectible) from The Perth Mint totaled 32,094 ounces in May, down from 35,900 during the same month last year. April's sales fell to 18,915 ounces, their lowest since the 10,645 ounces recorded in August 2010. March sales hit 38,109 ounces, down 9.6 percent from the comparable month last year.
The gold bulls, it seems, have hung up their horns while the market volatility plays out. The record-breaking golden kangaroo coin is currently on display at The Perth Mint's Gold Exhibition but that doesn't necessarily mean it will remain a museum piece.
"The Perth Mint would consider selling it to an interested party at the right price," a Perth Mint spokesperson told CNBC. "This would include the spot price of the metal value, plus a significant premium for production. Terms would obviously need to be negotiated."
For the record, the coin is worth more than $51 million at current prices — no chump change but possibly a bargain, relatively speaking, for a gold bug with money to spare.