About Perth Mint Bullion Blog

This blog discusses The Perth Mint's bullion coins and bars, providing information about our latest designs, mintages, sales volumes and sell outs. On a broader front, we share relevant research and opinions for anyone interested in gold and silver bullion investing.

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The ultimate guide to silver

Topics [ buy silver online buy silver bullion online buy silver coins ]


Thinking about investing in silver? Here’s your essential guide to the history, culture and science of one of the most remarkable metals known to man.

 • The Periodic Table lists elements in order of atomic weight. At 47 on the table, silver is represented by ‘Ag’ from argentum, the Latin description for white, shiny metal.

 • Silver is one of the seven so-called ‘metals of antiquity’ which mankind identified and found uses for thousands of years ago.

 • First mined around 3,000 BC in a region now part of Turkey, silver was originally refined by the process of ‘cupellation’, which uses high temperatures to oxidize and remove base metal impurities.

 • Because of its resistance to oxidation and corrosion, silver was known as a ‘noble’ metal, a group which includes gold and platinum.

 • Soft enough for early craftsmen to work into intricate patterns, silver was ideal for making ornate objects. In fact, it can be stretched into wire thinner than a human hair.

 • Adding to the attraction of silver as ornamentation, it is one of the most lustrous of all metals when polished.

 • As well as its long association with jewellery, silver has been used in the manufacture of cutlery and tableware since Roman times.

 • Sterling silver was invented in the Middle Ages. It contains 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals (usually copper), giving it hardness and strength for use in functioning objects.

 • Because silver is durable, stable and intrinsically valuable, it possesses qualities that make it ideal for use as money.

 • Made from electrum, a naturally occurring alloy of silver and gold, the first coins are said to have been invented in ancient Lydia (modern-day Turkey) around the 7th century BC.

 • With the discovery of a silver mine near Athens, the ancient Greeks became the first people to use silver coins extensively.

 • In Britain, a pound coin originally weighed one troy pound of silver.

 • In Spanish (plata) and French (argent) the word for ‘money’ and ‘silver’ can be interchanged; the Indian rupee derives from the Sanskrit word meaning ‘wrought silver’.

 • Huge deposits of silver were discovered in Spain’s South American colonies in the 16th century, accounting for the lion’s share of world production for around 300 years.

 • The discovery of silver in the Bohemian town of Joachimsthal led to the production of Joachimsthalers, large silver coins that became known as thalers, daalders, and ultimately dollars.

 • The last Australian circulating coin made predominantly of silver was the 1966 round 50 cent decimal piece. Due to the rising cost of silver, its bullion value became higher than its face value, which resulted in its withdrawal. Three of these coins make a full ounce of silver.


 • Although silver does occur naturally in pure form, it’s mainly found in silver bearing ores with copper, copper-nickel, lead, and lead-zinc.

 • The giant Comstock Lode, the richest silver deposit in American history, was discovered in Nevada around 1857.

 • It’s estimated that there is roughly 15 times more silver in the Earth’s crust than gold.

 • The top five producers of silver by country today are Mexico, Peru, China, Australia, and Russia. Annual average global mine production is reported at about 670 million troy ounces.

 • Because it is the best thermal and electrical conductor of all the metals, silver is found in countless electronic and modern technological devices.

 • Silver has antibacterial properties, which means it is a useful ingredient in wound dressings and water purification.

 • Silver is an important constituent in photovoltaic cells and thus in demand for the proliferating number of solar energy panels.

 • The majority of silver is today accounted for by these and an extensive list of other industrial applications, including batteries, bearings, brazing, soldering, inks, printing, and automotive industries, which underpin global demand.


 • The gold/silver ratio describes the number of ounces of silver required to purchase a single ounce of gold. Throughout the 20th century the ratio averaged about 50:1.

 • When oil executives Nelson and William Hunt attempted to corner the market in 1980 by acquiring vast amounts of silver, rising prices drove the ratio down to 17:1. Seeking safety in gold at the start of the 1991 Gulf War, investors pushed the ratio up to 100:1.

 • Sometimes referred to as “poor man’s gold”, silver nevertheless has a reputation as an effective store of value which has retained its purchasing power over long periods of time.

 • The price of silver reached its all-time high of nearly US$50 in January 1980. After slipping back toward just US$4 in 2001, it again tested US$50 in April 2011.

 • In theory, at least, silver is counter-cyclical to other asset classes, experiencing greater investment demand during events such as the Global Financial Crisis. In better economic times, say its proponents, more demand can be expected for industrial applications.

 • History shows that the price of silver is more volatile than gold and that this can offer shrewd investors the opportunity to “buy low and sell high”.

 • Accredited by the London Bullion Market Association, The Perth Mint refines and fabricates bullion bars and coins for investors in 99.99% and 99.9% pure silver.

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Bullion pricing – how it works

Topics [ gold prices buy silver bullion online buy gold bullion online ]


So, you’ve made the decision that it’s time to add gold and/or silver bullion to your investment portfolio. Now it’s time to understand how the price of your coins and bars is calculated.

Spot Price & Futures Price

There are two benchmarks for precious metals – spot prices and futures prices. These prices are determined by ‘over-the-counter’ markets and ‘futures exchanges’. We’ve explained more about both of these here

Even though they tend to be reported on TV and radio news, spot and futures prices are unavailable to retail buyers of gold and silver bullion coins and bars.

Retail price

When setting the price of bullion for retail investors, The Perth Mint takes into account these international benchmarks. Our calculations include a ‘premium’ over the metal price to cover the cost of fabrication of raw gold into coins and bars. To ensure we have a viable business, the Mint’s premium also includes a profit margin.


There are a couple of general rules worth knowing about premiums.

They are lower on bullion cast bars because the fabrication process is fairly straightforward. Bullion coins, which offer a number of important benefits including legal tender status, greater divisibility, rarity and detailed designs, are more complex to fabricate. As a result, the premium paid is slightly higher.

Notice, however, that premiums per ounce are usually lower on larger coins. You’ll also be able to discount the premium per ounce by taking advantage of volume breaks.

Live price

Taking their lead from international benchmarks, retail prices of gold and silver bullion fluctuate during the course of the day. To reflect this, our advertised prices are constantly updated.   

When placing an order for bullion on the Mint’s bullion website, you have one minute to lock-in the ‘live’ price of gold or silver before it is automatically revised – either up, down or no change.

When ordering by telephone, a customer service officer will confirm the price before completing a purchase on your behalf.     

Local currency

The price of gold and silver bullion is also directly affected by the relationship between the U.S. and Australian dollars.

This is because precious metals are U.S. dollar denominated commodities. But for the convenience of local customers, The Perth Mint prices its bullion in Australian dollars.

So if the Australian dollar strengthens relative to the U.S. dollar, the local price of bullion will fall. Conversely, if the value of the Australian dollar weakens relative to the U.S. dollar, the local price of bullion will rise.

The Australian dollar last hit parity with the U.S. dollar in 2013, negating this effect. More recently, the Aussie’s value has declined somewhat, explaining why the price of gold in Australian dollars has remained strong.

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World Gold Council: investment demand for gold surges in Q1 2016

Topics [ gold market gold investment ]


Some key findings of the latest WGC Gold Demand Trends report:

Overall gold demand for Q1 2016 increased by 21% to 1,290t, up from 1,070t in Q1 2015, making it the second largest quarter on record.

Total consumer demand was 736t down 13% compared to 849t in Q1 2015.

Global investment demand was 618t, up 122% from 278t in the same period last year.

At 364t, inflows into exchange traded funds (ETFs) were at their highest quarterly level since Q1 2009.

Total bar and coin demand was 254t, marginally higher than the same period last year.

Global jewellery demand fell 19% to 482t versus 597t in the first quarter of 2015.

Central bank demand dipped slightly to 109t in Q1 2016, compared to 112t in the same period last year.

Outlook: “Looking ahead we anticipate that ongoing market uncertainty and unconventional monetary policies will continue to support both investment and central bank demand. This, combined with an expected recovery in India, should see gold demand remain healthy over the course of 2016.” - Alistair Hewitt, Head of Market Intelligence at the World Gold Council

Download Gold Demand Trends Q1 2016

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Iconic 2016 Australian silver bullion coins officially sold out

Topics [ silver bullion coins Australian Koala Australian Kookaburra ]


Two of Australia’s iconic silver bullion coins are now officially sold out at The Perth Mint.

1oz Australian Kookaburra

Released in November 2015, the full mintage of 500,000 2016 Australian Kookaburra 1oz silver bullion coins has been sold worldwide.

This popular issue has achieved sell-out every year since 2008, reflecting its reputation as one of most eagerly sought-after limited mintage silver bullion coins in the world.

1oz Australian Koala

This year’s 1oz Australian Koala silver bullion coin is also sold out. Issued just last January, the coin was restricted to a maximum mintage of 300,000 for the first time.

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Silver Institute/GFMS report record high silver demand in 2015

Topics [ buy silver bullion online silver bullion bars buy silver ]


The silver market saw record demand in 2015, according to the World Silver Survey 2016, which was produced on behalf of the Silver Institute by the GFMS Team at Thomson Reuters (GFMS).

Jewellery, coin and bar, and photovoltaic sectors all posted new highs, it said, helping to boost total silver demand to 1.17 billion ounces last year. 

Perth Mint silver bars: buy online or call +61 8 9421 7218.

Overall silver supply to the market was lower, led by the continued weakness in silver scrap sales.

Last year’s supply and demand scenario led to the third successive annual silver market deficit, reaching 129.8 million ounces, more than 60% larger than 2014 and the third largest on record, it said.

For further details, download the World Silver Survey 2016.

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