R&D facility a tribute to a visionary

Collectors lucky enough to tour the Royal Canadian Mint’s facility in Winnipeg during this year’s Royal Canadian Numismatic Association convention will have the opportunity to check out the brand new expansions. A lot of attention is bound to be paid to the plating plant. This expanded facility will allow the Mint to produce a further two billion plated blanks per year, all in one of the most environmentally clean plating plants in the world. This capacity will go a long way toward the Mint’s goal of producing 15 per cent of the world’s coins, but to collectors it really has little meaning.

Ever since the new $1 and $2 coins rolled out last year, all of our coins have been made on blanks produced in Winnipeg; the excess capacity is for producing non-Canadian coins in the highly competitive world minting market. Of greater interest is the Hieu C. Truong Centre for Excellence for Research and Development. The name is admittedly a bit over the top, but the work to be done there will impact our coins on a day-to-day basis. Truong was described as a leading innovator at the Mint. That was an understatement. In my opinion, Truong has been an unsung hero at the Crown corporation. Granted, he works with a skilled and talented team, but his vision and leadership has been at the forefront of almost every significant development, even before the $2 was put into production.

We have some of the most remarkable and innovative coinage in the world. Many other nations have been able to match the Royal Canadian Mint’s achievements, but usually after the fact, and sometimes they have even bought the know-how from our Mint. It is important to us, because most of these innovations appear first on Canadian coins, and later on coins produced for other nations. The Government of Canada has been understanding in allowing the Mint to use Canadian coins as a showcase and demonstration of proof. The made-in-Canada method of producing bimetallic coins appeared first on the $2 coins, and when the Mint moved into the plating business, it was able to cut its teeth first on Canadian 1-cent pieces, and later on a the entire coinage of the country.

Another case was the coloured circulating coins. They first appeared in Canada, showcasing the Mint’s capabilities, and later on coins of other nations. Most recently, we have seen the introduction of micro-engraving and latent images. Our $1 and $2 coins have become tiny examples of state-of-the-art counterfeit detection in a real-world production environment. So if you’re one of the fortunate few to go through the Mint’s plant this summer, enjoy the plating plant, the coin presses, and incredible die-production machinery, but take a few minutes to check out the guys in white coats. They are already planning our next generation of coins.

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