Copper has been used to mint coins since ancient times and still today the majority of the coins in the world are produced from copper alloy rolled products.
The decision to use copper as the base material for minting coins is due to a series of important advantages derived from its inherent properties:
- ease of embossing due to the unique deformability of copper which makes it possible to achieve clear pictures and a clean stamp on both sides of the coin;
- corrosion resistance, which allows the coins to maintain a pleasant look over time and above all, to keep the minting process, thickness, shape and weight of the coins the same;
- aesthetic appearance of copper with colours that vary from red to yellow to white silver (thanks to its capacity to fuse into numerous alloys);
- the antibacterial properties of copper can stop the proliferation of harmful bacteria and therefore prevent the transmission of diseases and bacterial infections;
- the electrical conductivity and the magnetic permeability which help distinguish the various sizes of coins in vending machines.
At the beginning of the century, copper was chosen as the base material for the production of Euro coins, one of the largest minting operations in the world: on one day (January 1, 2002), more than 300 million European citizens in 12 different countries began using the new Euro coins, and over a span of two months completely abandoned their previous currencies.
To achieve this, in just 3-4 years (the initial production of blanks began in 1998-99), the transformation industries and the Mints manufactured an enormous mass of metal coins, almost 52 billion pieces, corresponding to approximately 250,000 tons of coins.
Copper experienced this huge change as a true leader: about 60% of the weight of the new coins is copper and five coins (out of a total of eight in the new series) are directly made with copper based alloys.
KME Group was one of the leaders of the coming of the Euro, there from the beginning when, in 1992-93, it joined the Materials for Coins and Technical Specifications division of the Mint Directors Working Group, a type of European Technical Committee created after the Maastricht Treaty with the task of designing the new monetary system.
Our Group was also one of the official suppliers of material for the stamping of Euro coins: five of our European factories supplied all eleven European Mints with approximately 90,000 tons of crowns, blanks or strips for the production of coins, corresponding to approximately 40% of the initial need.
KME has continued to produce material for coins even after the Euro came into effect. Now, with other countries joining the Euro Zone (Malta and Cyprus in January 2008, followed by Slovakia in January 2009), our Group, due to its experience and top level equipment, again finds itself in "pole position" to once again play a leading role in the supply of Euro coins.
The Euro coins made of copper alloys are: