The Perth Mint, a subsidiary of Gold Corporation, is Australia’s largest fully integrated precious metals enterprise, providing premium gold, silver and platinum products.
It registered a record profit before tax of $47.55m and an annual turnover of $23.87b in FY20.
The Perth Mint has experienced the highest demand for its gold and silver products in its 120-year history.
The spike in demand for gold, coupled with the relatively weaker Australian dollar, saw a flood of revenue earned as foreign currencies at The Perth Mint.
By June 30 2020, the depository at the Perth Mint was safeguarding more than $5.73b worth of precious metals for more than 60,000 clients from over 130 countries, with allocated gold ounces increasing 96% during the year.
Investors flocked to precious metals as a safe haven after the world economy shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, driving up the price of gold.
Profit for The Perth Mint before tax jumped 258% from FY19’s $13.26m and annual turnover increased 32% from the previous year’s $18.07b.
These record results didn’t come without its share of challenges for the business.
The Perth Mint’s general manager of refining, Nathan Edwards, said global supply chains were heavily disrupted at the start of global lockdowns and still are in some areas of logistics.
“There were questions early on about whether we would stay open,” he said.
“The world’s transportation routes shut down overnight and we worked very hard with transport providers and our operational customers, who are the major and junior mining companies around the globe, to get their material into our refining operations,” he said.
“Delivery timing was a key challenge as commercial airlines shut down their operations due to the large drop in passenger numbers, affecting our supply chain not only upstream but also downstream in terms of getting our refined products out.”
The WA Government’s decision to keep The Perth Mint operating during global lockdowns, together with record demand, saw the refinery operating at full capacity during the pandemic.
It currently has the capacity to refine 1000tpa of 99.99% gold and the same for silver.
“Our shareholder is the WA Government and they recognised the importance of the gold mining industry,” Mr Edwards said.
“We were declared an essential business and therefore we were able to remain open.
“It was important we remained open to support businesses from not just WA and Australia but also from Papua New Guinea, Alaska and some West African countries such as Ghana and the Ivory Coast.”
The Perth Mint refines more than 90% of Australia’s gold doré products and processes gold from the Oceania region, including production from Australian-owned projects in North America and Africa, as well as recycled gold from Asia.
It also refines silver doré, which is cast it into value-added products or manufactured into a variety of minted products, including bars and coins.
The Perth Mint’s total refining throughput for FY20 was 16.06moz of gold and silver.
With two chlorine refining furnaces, each with a 1t capacity, the Miller process is used to refine gold to a minimum purity of 99.5%.
This purified gold is suitable for casting into 400oz bullion bars that meet the physical requirements of the premier regulatory body London Bullion Metals Association (LBMA).
The Perth Mint has accreditation from the world’s five major precious metals exchanges and is the only facility in Australia to be accredited by the LBMA for refining gold and silver.
Other major accreditors include the Tokyo Commodity Exchange (TOCOM), New York Commodity Exchange (COMEX), Dubai Multi-Commodity Centre (DMCC) and the Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE).
The Perth Mint recently upgraded its silver processing plant due to the continued high demand for its silver coins and bullion products.
The commissioned external processing plant, based near the Perth Airport, utilises its existing gold processes to better respond to the demand for both gold and silver.
“We produce a significant amount of silver investment products so it made sense for us to have the capacity to refine and feed into our silver coining program,” Mr Edwards said.
“Silver used to be gold’s poor cousin but they seem to have decoupled a little, as silver is an emerging commodity and is used in growing industries such as renewable energy and solar panels.
“In terms of price and price movement, silver is probably a more attractive investment for non-institutional investors than gold and it is a more accessible product.