Yesterday, the United States Mint announced that their American Gold Buffalo bullion coins have sold out. The Mint also announced the continued suspension of the remaining one ounce gold bullion offering, and the limited availability of recently released fractional gold bullion coins.
As it stands, all gold bullion offerings from the US Mint are currently either sold, out, suspended, or limited.
The Gold Buffalo bullion coins contain one ounce of 24 karat gold. Typically these coins have been available throughout the year for purchase through the US Mint’s network of authorized bullion purchasers. This year the release was delayed until October 15, 2009. Since that date, the Mint has recorded sales of 200,000 coins. This amount, achieved in less than two months, exceeds the annual sales totals for each of the past two years.
The US Mint’s other gold bullion offerings are suspended or subject to limited availability. Sales of the 22 karat one ounce American Gold Eagle bullion coins were suspended on November 25, 2009. The US Mint announced the suspension to authorized purchasers in a memo which cited a depleted inventory due to “continued strong demand.” Additional coins are expected to be available by mid-December.
The US Mint began sales of fractional weight American Gold Eagle bullion coins this week on December 3, 2009. The coins available included one-half ounce, one-quarter ounce, and one-tenth ounce sizes. 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.
Last year, the United States Mint had been forced to suspend each of their gold bullion offerings, as they struggled to meet the increasing public demand for precious metals. By the end of the year the Mint decided to focus production on a single one ounce gold bullion coin, which was subject to rationing at the authorized purchaser level.
The rationing program finally ended in June 2009 and production of other gold bullion coins finally resumed in recent months. Although it seemed like the US Mint was finally catching up with precious metals demand, the latest round of suspensions, sold out coins, and limited availability suggest a recurrence of the supply problems of the past after only a brief reprieve.