December 5, 2022

Silver Investment Demand

In a previous post, I reviewed the amount of silver bullion sold by the United States Mint during 2008. With this post, I will take a longer term look at silver demand, which highlights the absolute explosion in demand which has occurred in recent years.

The supporting data for the charts included with this post comes from a new section of Gold and Silver Blog which collects the US Mint Silver Bullion Sales data since the inception of the program in 1986. You can visit the page to find the monthly sales figures for any date from 1986 to present. The section also calculates the approximate silver bullion value of each period’s sales based on the average monthly price of silver.

Silver Bullion Sales in Ounces

Here’s a chart summarizing the total ounces of silver bullion sold by the US Mint each year since 1986. (Click on the chart for a larger version.)

During 2008, the US Mint sold 19,583,500 ounces of silver through its bullion program. As explored previously, this marks an all time high for the program. It represents an increase of more than 98% from the prior year, and an increase of 92% from the previous all time high reached in 2002.

One important thing to note when considering the magnitude of the increase for 2008 is that the number of ounces sold could have been much greater. The US Mint suspended silver bullion sales during February before resuming sales on a rationed basis. When the rationing first began, one dealer claimed that he could have sold 500,000 ounces of silver per week, but was only allocated 100,000 ounces.

2008 Silver Bullion Sales in Dollars

Here’s a second chart which illustrates the explosion in demand for silver in even more dramatic fashion. The chart shows the approximate dollar value of silver bullion sold by the US Mint each year. As mentioned, this was calculated based on monthly silver bullion sales and the average monthly price of silver. (Click on the chart for a larger version.)

Silver Bullion Sales Value Chart

During 2008, The US Mint recorded silver bullion sales of approximately $286,451,715. This marks an all time high and an increase of 114% from the prior year, which was also the prior all time high.

The magnitude of the increase is more pronounced when compared to silver bullion sales from earlier years of the program. Throughout the majority of the 1990’s, the US Mint was selling less than $30 million worth of silver each year. The year for the lowest value of silver bullion sold was 1996 with $17,434,050. During 2008, the US Mint recorded monthly sales exceeding this level for ten out of twelve months.

Silver Bullion Sales and the Price of Silver

But what about the price of silver amidst this explosion in demand?

Here’s a third chart which plots the value of US Mint silver bullion sales from the last chart, together with the average annual price of silver for each year. (Click on the chart for a larger version.)

Silver bullion sales increased from a low of $17,434,050 to last year’s high of $286,451,715 representing an increase of 1,543%. The average annual price of silver increased from a low of $3.95 per ounce to last year’s high of $14.99 representing an increase of 203%. While this is a respectable gain, it pales in comparison to the increase in demand.

Everyone has been waiting for the disconnect between the demand for silver and the price of silver to resolve itself. Will it finally happen in 2009?
[phpbay]2009 silver eagle, 3, 39488, “”[/phpbay]

US Mint Raises Premiums on Silver Eagle Bullion Coins (Again)

Today, the United States Mint published notification that they would be raising the premiums charged for American Silver Eagle bullion coins. This refers to the premium above the price of silver at which the US Mint sells the bullion coins to Authorized Purchasers. The premium will increase from $1.40 per coin to $1.50 per coin. The increase will be effective from February 9, 2009.

The US Mint cited the recent price increase for “raw materials silver” as the reason for the increase. Less than four months ago on October 14, 2008, the US Mint had raised premiums from $1.25 per coin to $1.40 per coin. At that time they had cited “increases in the cost of acquiring silver blanks.”

Silver Eagle bullion coins sold by the US Mint continue to be subject to rationing. This “allocation program” has been in place since April 2008 as the US Mint’s solution to the ongoing overwhelming demand for silver. I am sure most would prefer to pay even higher premiums for Silver Eagles if they were allowed to buy the coins in unrestricted quantities.

The full notification of the current premium increase as published in the Federal Register is included below.

[Federal Register: January 27, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 16)]
[Notices]
[Page 4830]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr27ja09-87]

DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY

United States Mint

Notification of United States Mint Silver Eagle Bullion Coin Premium Increase

ACTION: Notification of United States Mint Silver Eagle Bullion Coin Premium Increase.

SUMMARY: The United States Mint is increasing the premium charged to Authorized Purchasers for American Eagle Silver Bullion Coins, a program authorized under 31 U.S.C. 5112(e). Because of the recent price increase for the premium for raw materials silver, the United States Mint will increase the premium charged to Authorized Purchasers for American Eagle Silver Bullion Coins, from $1.40 to $1.50 per coin, for all orders accepted on or after February 9, 2009.

Authority: 31 U.S.C. 5112(e)-(f) & 9701.

Dated: January 22, 2009.
Edmund C. Moy,
Director, United States Mint

2008 US Mint Gold, Silver & Platinum Bullion Coin Sales

With the dust somewhat settled for the prior year, we now have some complete US Mint sales data on sales of gold, silver, and platinum bullion coins. As expected, the numbers show some large percentage increases from prior year sales. In particular silver bullion sales reached an all time record high with sales of nearly 20 million ounces.

While the bullion coin sales figures go a long way to highlighting the immense demand for physical precious metals experienced in 2008, it’s only part of the picture. These strong numbers were achieved amidst periodic suspensions and rationing programs which impacted all bullion coin programs at one point or another during the year.

Sales of silver bullion coins were suspended on February 4, 2008 and again on March 19. Sales were resumed more than one month later on April 21, but on a rationed basis. Similarly, gold bullion coin sales were suspended and then resumed on a rationed basis. And finally, sales of some platinum and gold coins were ended prematurely, prior to the end of the year.

2008 US Mint Gold Bullion Coin Sales

Coins Ounces
1 oz Gold Eagle 794,000 794,000
1/2 oz Gold Eagle 50,000 25,000
1/4 oz Gold Eagle 58,000 14,500
1/10 oz Gold Eagle 270,000 27,000
1 oz Gold Buffalo 171,500 171,500
Total 1,343,500 1,032,000

The US Mint sells a 22 karat gold coin known as the American Gold Eagle. This coin is sold as a one ounce coin as well as in 1/4 ounce, 1/2 ounce and 1/10 ounce fractional denominations. The US Mint also sells a 24 karat one ounce gold coin known as the American Gold Buffalo. Gold Eagles have been sold since 1986 and Gold Buffaloes have been sold since 2006.

Across all options, the US Mint sold 1,032,000 ounces of gold through its bullion coin programs in 2008. This represented a jump of more than 78% from last year’s combined total of 577,000 ounces of gold. Notably, the total for 2008 is still far from the all time high of 2,055,500 ounces reached in 1999.

2008 US Mint Silver Bullion Coin Sales

Coins Ounces
1 oz. Silver Eagle 19,583,500 19,583,500

The US Mint sells a one ounce silver bullion coin known as the American Silver Eagle. These bullion coins have been sold since 1986.

For 2008, the US Mint reached an all time record for ounces of silver sold through their bullion program at 19,583,500 ounces. This represents a 98% increase from last year’s sales of 9,887,000 ounces of silver. The previous record for ounces of silver sold through the US Mint’s bullion coin program was set in 2002 with 10,475,500.

2008 US Mint Platinum Bullion Coin Sales

Coins Ounces
1 oz. Platinum Eagle 20,800 20,800
1/2 oz. Platinum Eagle 12,800 6,400
1/4 oz. Platinum Eagle 20,800 5,200
1/10 oz. Platinum Eagle 13,000 1,300
Total 67,400 33,700

The US Mint sells 99.95% platinum bullion coins known as the American Platinum Eagle. These coins are available in one ounce as well as 1/2 ounce, 1/4 ounce, and 1/10 ounce fractional sizes. The platinum bullion coins have been offered since 1997.

During 2008, the US Mint sold 33,700 ounces of platinum through their bullion program. This was up 272% from last year’s platinum bullion coin sales of 9,050 ounces. The all time record for platinum bullion sales by the US Mint was 175,650. This record was set in 1998 when platinum was significantly cheaper.

US Mint 2008 Gold and Silver Dwindle, 2009 Releases Delayed

The United States Mint recently released a memo to authorized bullion purchasers regarding the remaining 2008-dated bullion coins and the upcoming 2009-dated bullion coins.

The only 2008 dated bullion coins still being sold by the US Mint are the 1 ounce American Gold Eagle and 1 ounce American Silver Eagle. Final allocations for these coins will take place December 15, 2008. All of the fractional Gold Eagles, Gold Buffaloes, and Platinum Eagles are no longer available.

Sales of 2009-dated 1 ounce Gold Eagles and 1 ounce Silver Eagles will begin on December 29, 2008. Availability will be subject to allocation. The remaining 2009-dated bullion coins will be delayed. The US Mint cites “very limited” supplies of blanks from suppliers amidst high demand.

The full US Mint memo is reproduced below:

November 24, 2008

MEMORANDUM TO ALL AMERICAN EAGLE AND AMERICAN BUFFALO BULLION COIN AUTHORIZED PURCHASERS

SUBJECT: 2008 and 2009-Dated Bullion Coin Products

With the exception of the American Eagle Gold One-Ounce and American Eagle Silver One-Ounce Bullion Coins, all 2008-dated bullion coins have been depleted. Weekly allocations will continue for these two products.

The final 2008 allocation for these coins will be provided on Monday, December 15, 2008.

There will be no bullion allocations during the week of December 22, 2008.

2009-dated American Eagle Gold One-Ounce and American Eagle Silver One-Ounce Bullion Coins will be made available for sale via the standard allocation process on Monday, December 29, for pricing December 30 and order pick-up on Friday, January 2, 2009.

Allocations for these products will continue until the United States Mint is able to meet demand.

The quantities of blanks that we have been able to acquire from our suppliers continue to be very limited, while demand for bullion coins remains high. As a result, it is necessary for the United States Mint to delay the launch of other bullion coins until later in 2009. We will continue to monitor the situation and keep you informed as additional information becomes available.

Thank you for your patience and your continued support of the United States Mint Bullion Coin Program.