LONDON - "The United States Mint has depleted its inventory of 2009 American Buffalo One Ounce Gold Bullion Coins. ... No additional inventory will be made available. As additional information becomes available regarding 2010-dated American Buffalo One Once Gold Bullion Coins, you will be notified." So said a memorandum issued Friday to authorized purchasers of U.S. Mint gold coins and reported by Jim Sinclair..
Mineweb reported only two weeks ago, on November 25th, the suspension of sales of American Gold Eagle coins by the Mint - U.S. Mint suspends American Eagle 1-ounce gold coin sales - again, which, at the time, reckoned such sales would be resumed early this month - but in the event, not only is the suspension of the Gold Eagle coin sales continuing, but also now the American Buffalo one ounce gold coin sales have also been suspended, with no new sales now planned until some time in 2010 - although the current sharp fall in the gold price may provide the Mint with a bit of respite from its supply/demand woes. But supply problems also persist with smaller gold coins, particularly given the enormous demand for fractional sized gold coins following the suspension of the one ounce Gold Eagles. Thus the Mint was forced to issue a second memo on Friday saying "the American Eagle Gold Tenth-Ounce Coin inventory was depleted" and that "inventory for the half-ounce and quarter-ounce coins remains very limited." Following the sale of these remaining gold coins on Friday, the Mint anticipated that it would again offer all fractional sizes by mid-December, but in an allocation process.
On a more positive note for the Mint, the resumption of American Silver Eagle bullion sales will resume today. These silver coins were suspended along with the one ounce gold coins a week ago - also due to depletion.
The Mint had been trying to control sales by not releasing the 2009 coins for sale until late in the year - they are usually available throughout the year, but demand has proven to be enormous. This doesn't mean though that coins are not available to the U.S. public as some authorized dealers will continue to hold stocks, although these are being depleted rapidly and premiums charged on sales are increasing.
According to a report on website Coinupdate.com "The US Mint began sales of fractional weight American Gold Eagle bullion coins on December 3, 2009.... These fractional Gold Eagles are typically available throughout the year, but this year the Mint delayed the release to focus production on the one ounce bullion coins. After only one day of availability, the US Mint recorded sales of 56,000 of the one-half ounce coins, 58,000 of the one-quarter ounce coins, and 260,000 of the one-tenth ounce coins. They have indicated that the inventory for one-tenth ounce coins has already been depleted and the inventory for one-half and one-quarter ounce coins is limited. The remaining limited inventory will be offered via the US Mint's standard allocation process and additional inventory is expected to be available in mid-December."
While the shortage of U.S. Mint offerings due to demand exceeding supply is, in reality, not that significant in terms of global gold sales it does demonstrate the extent to which demand for easily available physical gold has increased over the past two years. Some of this has been the ever increasing interest by the U.S. public in gold in general and also a certain amount of distrust generated by some commentators as to whether the various ‘paper gold' offerings were secure.