The Save II Act (HR 3146), introduced in the House of Representatives on September 19, 2013, carries a provision that would prohibit “non-cost effective” minting and printing of coins and currency.
The bill amends Section 5111 of title 31 in the United States Code by adding at the end the following:
(e) Prohibition on Certain Minting- Notwithstanding any other provision of this subchapter, the Secretary may not mint or issue any coin that costs more to produce than the denomination of the coin (including labor, materials, dies, use of machinery, overhead expenses, marketing, and shipping).
For sure, the penny and nickel would become history with this bill, but this could also prohibit the US mint from minting bullion coins, which cost more than their denominations to produce. Also, US Mint numismatic products could be prohibited under the wording of the new legislation.
The US Mint currently produces the American Gold Eagle, the American Gold Buffalo (both carry $50 face value), as well the American Silver Eagle and the America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Bullion Coins which carry a denomination of 25 cents and the American Silver Eagle carries a denomination of One Dollar.
The coins are minted in the quantities needed to meet demand. The American Silver Eagle has been met with such overwhelming demand, the Mint often runs out of the blanks needed to produce them.
The US Mint sells its bullion coins to distributors based on the market value of the precious metals. A markup covers additional costs of production and distribution as well as a small profit margin. The US Mint generated a net income of $28.4 million on bullion sales of more than $2.4 billion.
The SAVE II Act was likely designed to prohibit the minting of coins issued for circulation which cost more than their denominations to produce, like the penny and nickel. Not bullion.