Euro production figures
The Eurosystem is responsible for the overall production and distribution of the new euro coins
and banknotes, which means that there is a partnership between the ECB and the national central banks. The
production of the coins started in May 1998, as a total of 50 billion coins had to be minted across the euro area.
Much work was done to ensure that the new coins would meet vending machine standards across all european countries,
The European Central Bank is responsible for approving the overall value of coins to be issued.
The use of coins varies greatly across the euro area, so each Member State has estimated the number of coins it
needs and justified that figure to the European Central Bank, which has authorised the appropriate level of
production. The coins were minted in several of the participating countries, many using blanks produced at
Birmingham Mint, Birmingham, England.
The following coins, in titles of number and value, were circulating on 30 April 2007
|Value (in euros)
What happened to the replaced coins in the Eurozone? Although a pocketful of centimes or
pfennigs won't get you far in Europe today, in China they might just be worth their weight in nickel. Such is
China's voracious appetite for raw materials to feed its rapidly growing economy, that the country is snapping
up the obsolete coins and melting them down for their metal content. The Asian giant, with booming construction
and automobile sectors, is scouring the globe for every piece of scrap metal it can lay its hands on -- and
France is one country that has a ready supply of much-sought-after nickel-containing coins. China's stainless
steel demand is predicted to rise to four million tonnes next year from 3.4 million in 2003, and nickel is a
key component of the medal. It is also very versatile and also finds its way into cars, appliances and
An official at France's mint told Reuters China had been a major buyer of French coins since
they were replaced by euros as the country's legal tender almost two years ago. He said the mint had not
auctioned its coins directly. Instead, it sold them to dealers, some of whom in turn sell to smelters and scrap
metal traders. The old 50-centime coin, almost 100 percent nickel, is proving particularly popular in China,
where it is bought as scrap to supplement tight supplies of the main raw material, refined nickel. The shipments
are usually packed 500 to 1,000 tonnes per lot and the stainless steel producers can just put the coins into
their furnaces as nickel feed.
Even collectors' items have found their way into Chinese furnaces. "We sell special
commemorative coins to various shops, which have then sold some of this stock to the Chinese," said the French
mint official. Christian de Barrin, spokesman for the Brussels-based European Copper Institute (ECI), estimated
around 260,000 tonnes of old European coins would be recycled by 2005. Germany, the region's
largest coin user, had almost 79,000 tonnes of old marks and pfennig coins. But like most other EU countries,
it sold most within 18 months of the euro's launch. France had around 43,000 tonnes of old coins and still
retains a large portion of this total, the ECI said.
Secondary copper producers Norddeutsche Affinerie AG of Germany and Elmet of Spain were the
two main companies involved in recycling old European coins, said the ECI. De Barrin said the 260,000
tonnes of old coins would yield around 150,000 tonnes of copper, 54,000 tonnes of steel and 43,000 tonnes of
nickel. "The old (French) 50-centime coin contained 100 percent nickel, whereas the five-, 10- and
20-centime coins contained 92 percent copper," he said. China only has its eye on the nickel, which is used as
an anti-corrosive additive in stainless steel production. Chinese traders saw the nickel contained in coin scrap
being offered to China at a discount of two to three percent on the London Metal Exchange (LME) cash settlement
But Chinese demand for copper-rich coins is much weaker, the traders said. These coins
contain only eight percent aluminium and nickel, and separating these metals from the copper is a difficult and
expensive process, they said. Secondary copper smelters in China prefer to import other grades of copper scrap,
which are easier to process and relatively cheap, the traders said.