FAQ: Questions about our Storage Options

Storage Options

Should I self store or store with a third party?

Answering the question of whether you should store your precious metals in your home, in a private or bank safe deposit box, or with a specialist custodian like The Perth Mint depends on your personal circumstances. Ultimately it comes down to your assessment of the risk of loss - if you store gold and silver yourself, you run the risk of someone breaking into your home and stealing it, if you store it with someone else, you run the risk of them stealing it.

If you spend any time on gold forums, blogs or websites you will inevitably come across the saying "if you don't hold it you don't own it". While we are agnostic on the issue (we have an extensive dealer network and sell bullion online for shipment or storage), we do think this simplistic "you can't trust anyone" glosses over the risks of personal storage. Below are some points to consider when deciding what is right for you.

Self Storage
  • Your metal is under your direct control - you do not have any exposure to a third party.
  • You have immediate access to your metal - valuable in cases of civil disorder or bank holidays.
  • Your investment is private - especially if you pick it up in person from your local coin dealer and pay cash.
  • Insurers generally do not cover cash or bullion, or only up to small values.
  • You need to ensure your family does not mention you have metal.
  • You have to transport it each time you buy and sell, which can be inconvenient and risky.
Safe Deposit Box
  • Metal is stored in a high security facility.
  • Can be insured, or custodian can arrange insurance.
  • Metal is not under your direct control and you don't have immediate access to it.
  • Less privacy as custodian has to identify its customers.
  • You have to transport it each time you buy and sell, which can be inconvenient and risky.
Store with The Perth Mint
  • The Perth Mint's vaults meet international security standards and are monitored 24 hours a day.
  • All metal stored by The Perth Mint is Government Guaranteed, in addition to being insured.
  • You do not incur shipment costs and the risk associated with transporting physical metal.
  • You have more access to more storage options, like unallocated and pool allocated, in addition to allocated.
  • Easy to trade - buy and sell over the telephone or online.
  • Metal is not under your direct control and you don't have immediate access to it.
  • Less privacy as custodian has to identify its customers.

Why should I store my precious metals in Perth?

Perth is geographically isolated on an island continent. It is the capital city of one of Australia's wealthiest states, Western Australia. Australia is a politically and economically stable country and it's legal, commercial and political structures are derived from systems developed in the United Kingdom.

Western Australia's goldfields are a major world source of gold and The Perth Mint refines the majority of this mine output and additional mine and scrap gold averaging over 400 tonnes.

The Mint itself is also a large user of gold in its bullion and numismatic coin programs and in its blank manufacturing operations, where it supplies many of the world's Mints with precious metal blanks for their own coin programs. Unlike other depositories, which are merely warehouses, Perth Mint Depository is therefore intimately involved in and in close proximity to the physical gold market, guaranteeing access to supply.

Why should I store my precious metals with The Perth Mint?

The advantage of The Perth Mint as your custodian are detailed in this FAQ page. In brief:

  • Wholly owned by the Government of Western Australia.
  • Operates under a Government Guarantee.
  • Breach of your privacy by our staff results in their imprisonment and fines.
  • Highly secure vaults with multiple layers of security - physical and operational.
  • Operates under a far more onerous corporate governance and audit regime than that applying to public or private companies.

What is the difference between Allocated, Pool Allocated and Unallocated storage?

The table below summarises the key differences between the types of storage, the main one being the segregation of the physical metal backing the storage type.

Feature Allocated Pool Allocated Unallocated
Backed By Specific Bars or Coins A Pool of Bars Working Inventory of the Mint
Metal Available Gold, Silver Silver Gold, Platinum
Fabrication Fees Normal Low Zero
Storage Fees Medium Low Zero
Deliverable In 2 days 10 days 10 days


What is Allocated storage?

Allocated storage is the traditional way of holding precious metals. You purchase physical coins or bars from us which we remove from our working inventory and place in the Perth Mint Depository and against which we record your title to that specific precious metal.

Allocated precious metal is therefore segregated from our working inventory and is held under a bailee arrangement and accordingly does not appear on The Perth Mint's balance sheet.

What Allocated products are available?

You can buy allocated gold and silver in both coin and bar form (platinum is only available as unallocated). At purchase, you pay for the precious metal in the bar or coin and a fabrication charge. Ongoing storage fees are charged. A list of the specific sizes available and fees can be found on our our Pricing page.

Below is a list of the key differences between bullion coins or bars.

Bullion Coins

  • Legal tender status means their precious metal content is guaranteed by the Commonwealth Government of Australia.
  • Legal tender status means they may be able to be treated as currency when exporting and importing.
  • Smaller coins have limited mintages, giving the potential for numismatic premium.
  • High quality finish with extensive frosting, making it difficult to fake.
  • Recognised internationally and widely distributed, making purchase and liquidation easier.

Bullion Bars

  • Fabrication premiums are generally lower than coins on a per ounce basis.
  • 1kg gold, 400oz gold and 1,000oz silver bars are numbered.
  • Numbered bars are London Good Delivery (LGD) and are recognised internationally, making liquidation easier.
  • Smaller bars are not as widely distributed as the coins.

Pool Allocated

What is Pool Allocated storage?

With Pool Allocated we set aside numbered bars into a segregated pool which backs the amount of pool allocated we owe to our customers. The precious metal is thus not available for us to use and you can see a list of the bars set aside on our Notifications page.

What Pool Allocated products are available?

At this time only silver pool allocated backed by 1000oz bars is available. At purchase, you pay for the precious metal and a reduced fabrication charge (which can be offset against fabrication fees on other bars should you subsequently choose to convert to allocated). Storage fees lower than those applying to allocated are charged on an ongoing basis. A list of the fees can be found on our our Pricing page.


What is Unallocated storage?

When you purchase unallocated precious metal from us, we immediately purchase a corresponding amount of metal from the market (usually from mining companies who refine with us) which we then use in our business to make coins and bars. Accordingly every unallocated ounce is 100% backed. The precious metal purchased by us is recorded on our balance sheet as an asset and the unallocated ounces sold to you are recorded as a liability.

What Unallocated products are available?

At this time only gold and platinum are available in unallocated. Unallocated silver was closed in May 2011 as we had enough silver for our operations. If we do decide in the future to reopen unallocated silver, we will first offer existing pool allocated or allocated clients the opportunity to convert. If we decide to close unallocated gold or platinum in the future, your existing balances will be grandfathered and maintained, you just won't be able to purchase additional unallocated.

With unallocated you only pay for the precious metal value and there are no fabrication charges or storage fees, until you elect to convert your unallocated into pool allocated or allocated storage, which you can do at any time.

How can unallocated be 100% backed, yet there is no storage fee?

Unlike other depositories, which are merely warehouses, The Perth Mint is a manufacturer of precious metal products and one of the world's largest refiners. Accordingly, we have a substantial requirement for physical metal to support these operations.

To fund this working inventory, we traditionally borrowed metal from bullion banks, at cost. At the same time, investors were depositing metal with bullion banks and others and being charged storage fees.

We realised there was an opportunity to cut out the intermediary and take deposits directly from investors. The Perth Mint's unallocated is thus a win-win situation: we get to "borrow" precious metal to use in our business for free and you get 100% backed safe storage of your precious metal for free.

We don't charge storage fees on unallocated because the costs of vaulting and insuring our working inventories of gold and silver are part of our business and covered by the fabrication fees we charge for our bars and coins - we would incur these costs whether our metal was sourced from you or a bullion bank. We charge storage fees on allocated and pool allocated because we incur additional vaulting and insurance costs for storing this custodial precious metal.

Warning on other unallocated programs!

Unallocated is a liability of the business offering it. This means that you are exposed if the business becomes insolvent and creditors commence bankrupcy proceedings as the precious metal backing the unallocated becomes part of the assets to satisfy all creditors and you may only get a fraction of your money back.

Therefore it is very important that you are satisfied with the financial strength and honesty of the business you buy unallocated from - statements that they back unallocated ounce for ounce are of no value if the business is financially unsound.

While The Perth Mint has been in business for over 115 years and is highly profitable (see our Annual Reports), we are also wholly owned by the Government of Western Australia and operate under an explicit Government Guarantee, so your exposure is actually to the Government's solvency. Perth Mint Depository clients ultimately accept a sovereign risk exposure to the State of Western Australia.

The Government Guarantee FAQ page provides further information on our financial strength, relationship between us and the Government, and the strength of the Government's balance sheet. Given that Governments have the power to tax, most investors view the possibility of a Government becoming insolvent as highly unlikely.

Finally, unallocated programs offered by banks are have additional risk because banks lend most of the precious metals deposited with them to third parties - lending is what banks do. Therefore, in addition to being an unsecured creditor of the bank, you are exposed to the risk that the people they have lent your metal to cannot repay. You are also at risk of delays should you wish to convert to physical metal, as the bank will need to source physical from a refiner or mint like ourselves. In our case we will be prioritising our own customers over supplying physical to banks or other businesses.

What is the Mint's policy on use of unallocated metal?

The Western Australian Government imposes strict guidelines on The Perth Mint's management. We are not a bullion bank and do not provide project financing or bullion lending/derivative services to mining companies or other entities. We do not lend client's unallocated metal to support short selling transactions or other derivative activities. Your unallocated metal is utilised solely to fund our operations.

Our business mission is to provide you with one of the world's safest locations for precious metal storage, especially in an environment of increasing global, financial and corporate risk. Use of unallocated metal outside of our operations is not consistent with this mission. It would introduce an unacceptable level of risk and compromise our international reputation as a safe haven depository.

Does usage of the metal by the Mint affect my ability to collect physical metal?

No. Any use by us of unallocated metal does not affect your right at any time to sell or request delivery of metal in a physical form. We have a legal obligation to ensure your precious metal is available for collection within a specified period from the date of receiving a client's instructions.

We maintain finished goods inventory of our coins and bars at all times to meet normal demand from our distributors and Depository customers so you will usually be able to convert your metal within a few days of giving notice.

However, it is important to note that if you request a physical product that is not in stock, or a very large quantity, we may need to manufacture it. The lead times for manufacture will depend upon the size of the order, current demand and production capacity. It is because of this uncertainty that some customers choose allocated storage - as their metal has already been fabricated it is ready for collection at short notice.

If you are worried about potential delays in collecting metal in extreme circumstances, but with concerns about the cost of allocated storage, we suggest you consider a staged approach:

  1. While the world environment is benign, hold unallocated or pool allocated - you elminate or minimise ongoing storage costs and fabrication charges.
  2. When the environment becomes uncertain and risky, convert to allocated.
  3. When the world is at a crisis point, take delivery of your physical metal.

This approach can save you significant amounts of money as it may be some time between stage 1 and 2. If you do not feel you can judge the shift from stage 1 to 2, or feel it may be sudden and unpredictable, opt for allocated as you are using precious metals as "insurance" and the storage fees is the cost of that insurance.

Can I convert between storage types?

Yes, you can convert between any one of the three storage methods at any time. In the case of taking delivery of unallocated metal or pool allocated metal you must first request your precious metal be converted to allocated. Fabrication costs are payable at the time of conversion and are based on precious metal market prices at the time of the conversion.