Rising metal prices mean Australia's five cent coin now costs more to make than it is worth, the government admitted Sunday, but added there were no plans to scrap the little piece yet.
An Australian five cent coin Photo: AFP
The Royal Australian Mint in Canberra, which produces the copper and nickel coins stamped with the native echidna, or spiny anteater, has reportedly complained that they are so expensive to make they should be scrapped.
"With the rising prices of metals and some of the ingredients which go into the five cent coin, they've certainly reported that it's more expensive to make the five cent coin than five cents," Assistant Treasurer Bill Shorten said.
The circular five cent coin, which is 75 percent copper and 25 percent nickel, weighs 2.83 grams and has a diameter of 19.41 millimetres.
Shorten said it was too early for the coin, worth about 5.25 US cents, to go the way of the copper-based one and two cent pieces which were withdrawn in the early 1990s after inflation reduced their buying power.
He was concerned that donations to charities, which often receive loose change, would be affected and that retailers could react by rounding up prices, he added.
"The one and two cent coins went and the sun came up the next day, but there's no current consideration to scrap the five cent coin," he said.