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The US Mint Won’t Even Buy Back Its Own Coins

Importers of scrap coins have waited for years as the US government tested coins, failing to return them without due process. Many coins appear to have been released by the government to go back to the proper owners. Yes, the U.S. Mint’s suspended buyback program remains suspended, meaning the US government won’t buy back its own currency. Coin recyclers are searching for other means to redeem their coin inventory.

The U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is due to release over $700,000 in coin shipments to three importers, and pay over  $300,000 in melted coins detained and withheld without due process since 2014 and 2015, sources say.

Portland, Ore.-based Portland Mint LLC learned of the release of a shipment detained by the CBP for 507 days, according AMM.

The Mint’s program means recyclers will have to get creative. They can’t melt the coins down themselves, as it’s illegal to destroy U.S. currency. Coin recyclers are waiting to hear from the U.S. government what they can do with the piles of coins they’re collecting at global facilities.  Recyclers bemoan that the US government won’t even buy back its own currency.

“The suspension of shipments to the Mint has caused a severe business hardship, as we have been held up from shipping to the Mint for nearly 18 months. This includes almost six months prior to the formal suspension of the program in which we were unable to get an appointment to deliver coins,” according to an anonymous heavy media plant operator.

“While we understand and can deal with the market risks associated with scrap metals, we could never have imagined the current scenario under which U.S. currency has essentially become worthless with no ability to monetize it. … We are currently looking at various methods to clean and recirculate these coins, as we need to be able to recoup some of the costs already expended. On a much broader level, if the program stays on hold what impact will the continued suspension have on the monetary value of the coins and U.S. currency?” the source rhetorically asked.

Luke Palen, president of Rosemount, Minn.-based Spectro Alloys Corp.

concurred: “We’re frustrated that the program is still offline due to the fact that we want to be able to capture the value of all these coins.”

More frustration by other industry insiders: “This is currency and its value is being lost,” said Steve Bossotti, senior vice president of Morristown, N.J.-based Covanta Holding Corp.’s metals management division. Covanta might sort through its inventory for unmutilated coins – roughly one-third of the company’s coins.

Bossotti noted: “We are evaluating cleaning and sorting the coins and returning them into the U.S. banking system. We’d spend more time to process (them) and get less value but if the status quo continues, we have to look at doing something different because it’s value being lost.”

Industry CEO’s are willing to work with the government. “…But the Mint and Treasury haven’t even replied or taken us up on our offer,” Johnson said.

He added: “I don’t know how they can make a valid choice to stop the program, but we also understand that they need to figure it out. … This is U.S. currency and recyclers have a legal duty to redeem it. We need the Mint to lift the suspension as soon as possible.” The Treasury isn’t set to make a change to the program until November 2.

“The coins aren’t going anywhere until the program is resumed. It’s encouraging to see that the U.S. government is releasing our coins, but until the program comes out of a suspension there will continue to be far-reaching impacts through the industry,” said John J. Coughlin, a Moorestown, N.J.-based attorney representing three importers who are now suing the government for failing to return inventory without due process.

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