The Head Of The Australian Mint Thinks Five Cent Pieces Are Dying A Slow Death

19/02/2016 5:07 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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Small Change

How many five cent coins do you have in your wallet? Not many? You’ve thrown them into the car glove box, haven’t you? Or they've fallen down the side of the couch?

Your neglect towards the smallest piece of Australian currency has not been ignored.

The head of the Royal Australian Mint, Ross MacDiarmid, admits the five cent coin is in slow decline. Demand has halved in the past five years, MacDiarmid told the ABC.

"Due to underuse, it is predicted that production with decrease over time and dissipate that way," MacDiarmid told The Huffington Post Australia.

Every year the rate of inflation is deeming the coin more irrelevant with many parking meters and coin-operated machines no longer accepting the piece.

And while it only costs eight cents to produce a 10 cent piece, it costs five cents to produce a five cent piece, depending on fluctuating metal prices. That's 20 cents on the dollar that we're currently wasting to keep them around.

Dr David Glance, Director of Software Practice at the University of Western Australia -- who has studied the implementation of paywave and other cashless payment systems in Australia -- said coins, particularly five cent pieces, are immensely expensive for businesses to store.

And for mobile businesses like Coca Cola, with vending machines around the country, the cost to collect these coins is huge.

"Getting rid of coins generally -- but even getting rid of the five cent coin -- would save not only the produce and production of the coins themselves but the whole handling process that goes on when people collect them," Dr Glance told The Huffington Post Australia.

“I refuse to carry them and will deposit them in any charity jar or tip jar as soon as I can."

The mint produced 58.1 million five cent coins in 2014 and over the past five years almost 340 million pieces have been produced. With a five cent coin weighing 2.83 grams, the collective weight of the pieces produced in the last five years is as heavy as a Boeing 747 -- almost 1000 tonnes.

But those 340 million pieces also hold a weight of value to those outside Australia. The $68 million the pieces are collectively worth could help send more than 13 million children in third world countries to school, according to YGap -- a charity campaigning for Australians to donate their five cent coins to those in need.

The charity claims there is more than $150 million in coins lying around the country. So what does MacDiarmid think?

“There is no way to know how many five cent coins are in circulation at the moment as they could be sitting in money boxes or in cars," he told HuffPost Australia.

Sitting in money boxes or cars. Exactly.

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