On June 13, the Royal Canadian Mint opened its latest expansions in Winnipeg: an expanded plating plant, and the Hieu C. Truong Centre of Excellence for Research and Development. The plating plant will increase the Mint’s capacity to produce tri-plated blanks by a further two billion pieces per year. The centre will “double the Mint’s capacity to innovate and will open new and exciting opportunities to market our proprietary technologies and processes,” said Ian Bennett, master of the Royal Canadian Mint said.
“The expansion of our plating facility supports the growth of the Mint’s foreign business as a key priority as we pursue the objective to own 15 per cent of global market share by 2020.” Construction of the 70,000-square-foot expansion began in the fall of 2011, and cost an estimated $60 million. The tri-plated coins are a process of sandwiching a steel core with different layers of copper, nickel or brass. The process produces durable coins, while varying the individual layers allows the Mint to control the electromagnetic signature of each coin denomination, making the coins harder to counterfeit than solid alloy or mono-plated coins.
Coin acceptance machines can be configured to detect the signature and reject coins without it, even if they have the correct size, shape, and weight. Each denomination in a coin series can have a distinctive electromagnetic signature. The new research centre will not only allow the development of new technologies, but will be able to produce samples of specific products for foreign customers to review before setting up full production.
Training facilities will also help the Mint share knowledge and technologies.
Truong is the inventor of the Mint’s multi-plating process and directed teams developing hologram technology, laser virtual imaging, and .99999 gold refining in Ottawa. In the future, the Ottawa facility will concentrate on surface engineering and specialized engraving for collector, and bullion coins. The Winnipeg facility will concentrate on developing the multi-plating process, and introducing new materials and anti-counterfeiting technologies for circulating coins. The Royal Canadian Mint first produced coins in 1918, when it was still a branch of the Royal Mint. The order was for Jamaica. In recent years that business has grown, and the Mint has produced coins and blanks for more than 75 countries since the Winnipeg facility opened in 1976.