More than 100 years of minting excellence
The Perth Mint features significantly in the history of Western Australia (WA), with our original building a stunning landmark on Hay Street at the east end of the city.
Attracting visitors from around the globe every day, it’s home to a shop and exhibition which pays homage to our significant contribution to the gold industry since 1899.
Late 1800s: Premier advocates for gold industry
Western Australia’s first Premier Sir John Forrest is regarded as our founding father. ‘Big John’ foresaw the importance of gold in the development of WA’s economy and successfully lobbied the British Government to establish a branch of the Royal Mint in Perth.
1896: Foundation stone laid
Forrest laid our foundation stone in 1896. Designed by George Temple Poole, our original building is one of Perth’s most impressive colonial-era monuments. In recognition of the quality of the architect’s work, we possess the highest classification from the National Trust. The building was also the first to be entered on the State’s heritage register.
1899-1931: Reign of sovereigns
Between 1899 and 1931, we struck more than 106 million gold sovereigns and nearly 735,000 half sovereigns for use throughout Australia and the British Empire.
We stopped making gold sovereigns when Britain abandoned the gold standard in 1931. Our refinery remained busy as staff turned their skills to making fine gold bullion bars.
1940-1964: Age of pennies
In 1940 with Australia on a war footing, an urgent telegram arrived from the Commonwealth Treasury in Canberra: “Heavy demand for Australian coin and Melbourne Mint working full capacity. Could you undertake minting copper coin?”
In response, we produced hundreds of millions of Australian pennies and half pennies between 1940 and 1964 featuring a kangaroo design and the effigies of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II. We also fulfilled an order for 1.3 million shillings in 1946.
1957: Striking the purest gold
We achieved “arguably the purest of all gold” in 1957. Refinery Officer Leo Hickey and Senior Craftsman Alexander Osborne produced a proof ‘plate’ of almost six nines - 999.999 parts of gold per thousand - as measured by the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths in London.
The Royal Mint was so impressed that it ordered some of the gold as the benchmark for its own standards.
1966: Currency flips to decimal
Our considerable output was boosted further when Australia introduced decimal currency in 1966 for which we produced a staggering 829 million 2c coins and 26 million 1c coins by 1973.
1970: Ownership transfers to the WA Government
We remained under Britain’s jurisdiction until 1 July 1970, when ownership transferred to the Government of Western Australia.
The change came a few years prior to the start of a new gold boom. With the price of gold rising dramatically, we became the focus of renewed interest and opportunity.
1987: Gold Corporation established
Gold Corporation was created by the Gold Corporation Act 1987 to take over the operations of The Perth Mint and launch Australia’s official bullion coin program. At a glittering ceremony in Sydney on 23 April 1987, then prime minister Bob Hawke launched the Australian Nugget Gold Coin Series. First day’s trading yielded sales of 155,000 ounces of gold worth AUD 103 million, well above the forecast 130,000 ounces to the end of June.
1990: New home for refinery opens
Our refining activities eventually outgrew their original premises in East Perth and a new refinery was built near Perth airport, commencing operations in 1990.
2000s: New era for historic site
To meet the growing demand for our products, we officially opened an 8,400 square metre manufacturing and commercial facility adjacent to our original limestone building.
Equipped with the latest technology, these buildings are powerful symbols of more than a century of minting excellence in Western Australia.
2012: Gold coin enters record books
Cast in 2011, the Australian Kangaroo One Tonne Gold Coin was awarded the title ‘largest coin’ by Guinness World Records in 2012.
The famous 99.99% gold coin weighs in at 1,012 kilograms and measures 80cm x 13cm. It made its way to New York in 2018 to mark the launch of Australia’s first gold exchange traded fund and is now a top attraction at the mint.
2018: Gold goes digital
Now firmly in the digital age, we joined with technology and software partners to transform access to gold with the development of digital buying, selling and trading platforms.
This included the release of blockchain compatible digital gold certificates as a secure and easy way to trade, hold and transfer physical gold.
2020s: Balancing tradition with transformation
While our involvement in digital gold products continues to meet the changing needs of the global market, demand for our bullion and coins programs is as strong as ever.
2020: Cultural icons
Interest in our ‘proof’ quality collector coins featuring original Australian designs of our native wildlife, exclusive commemoratives celebrating international and Australian milestones, cultural icons and modern themes continues to go from strength to strength.
2022: Renowned for legal tender and bullion
As a member of an elite group of world mints, our pure gold, silver and platinum legal tender coins trusted without question.
Like the Australian Nugget, which evolved into the internationally acclaimed Australian Kangaroo coin series, our Australian Kookaburra, Australian Koala and Australian Lunar programs are sought after by bullion investors .
2022 and beyond
Our ability to set benchmarks in coin design and forge new market trends highlights what can be achieved with the traditional skills of our craftspeople and the best technology and treatments such as colour and gilding.