Since May, copper prices have fallen to where the melt value of a penny is now under a half cent and the nickel is just slightly higher than 5 cents — the U.S. Mint now makes money issuing pennies and almost breaks even with nickels.
The House debated on the legislation and finally voted yesterday to change the metallic composition of the penny and 5-cent nickel to a less expensive copper-colored steel.
Although the prices of copper, zinc and nickel metals in coins have declined in recent months, the penny and 5-cent nickel still cost more to make than what they're worth—resulting in a reported loss of about $100 million every year, or $1 billion over a decade.
It now costs about 1.26 cents to make the penny and about 7.7 cents to make the nickel.
House bill "H.R. 5512, the Coin Modernization and Taxpayer Savings Act of 2008" would seek to change those manufacturing costs by using copper-colored steal, which could cut the cost of making pennies down to about 0.7 cents each. But its recent passage in the House is no guarantee it'll make its way to the White House for signing.
H.R. 5512 must still go through the Senate and then the President, and not everyone is happy with the current legislation.
The cost to manufacture pennies and nickels exceeds their face value. A newly introduced House bill would change the metal composition in coins to make them profitable again.
The newly introduced bill is not a new concept. A similar bill received attention late last year. The 'Coin Modernization and Taxpayer Savings Act of 2007' failed to get through the gates when a mini firestorm erupted. Mostly because the bill contained more than what its name implied - a provision that would allow citizens to melt pennies.
That portion of the bill proved to be controversial. Why? The U.S. Treasury implemented a ban on melting 1-cent and 5-cent coins that went into effect just months earlier with a stated objective to save money.
In a blaze of actions and to get home for the holidays, the Senate and House tossed together a several hundred page bill named, The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008. The bill has been given to the President and while there's no guarantee, the signing of it seems likely.
Even with the latest and greatest computer, the digital document takes seconds to load. Reading it in its entirety... well, that's hours of tedium. Thanks to modern search tools, quicker inspection is possible. And upon review, the bill contains a few nuggets of interest for coin collectors.
Six new state quarters added for 2009
SEC. 622 amends the law to include six more "state" quarters in 2009. The word, state, is in quotes as the new quarters are really for districts and territories. To cut to the chase, the six new quarters are for: