Royal Mint of Belgium to close|
August 18, 2017
First it was the Myntverket Sveriges (Swedish Mint) in 2011. Then it was the Royal Mint of Denmark in 2016. Earlier this year, the Royal Dutch Mint followed. Now, the Royal Mint of Belgium has announced it will cease all operations Jan. 1, 2018.
Economic and political factors weighed into the Belgian decision, both being considered controversial.
The Belgium Ministry of Finance has been attempting to close the mint since 2010, citing the mint not being profitable to operate. Trade unions and the general public favored keeping the facility, based in Brussels, open, which put the closing on hold for some time. Unions argued that the mint produced sufficient coinage, while government officials insisted it did not meet what was required for circulation.
The Belgian trade union UNSP argued, “Since several years, the personnel has made an effort to comply with the requirements. This has been done with a great success so that the Royal Mint is making [a] profit.”
The political wrangling ceased when in March the government officially approved the closing.
Adding some mystery to the situation, the government announced 25 specialized mint employees would not be laid off, bringing into question what will happen to the minting facility. No explanation was offered regarding what these employees would be expected to do in the future.
The Royal Dutch Mint was acquired by the Belgian-based investment group Groep Heylen earlier this year, at which time Didier Clerx, Groep Heylen chief executive officer, said, “Within Groep Heylen we [own] Mauquoy Token Company, National Tokens, and Royal Blanking International. All [of these are] Belgian companies operating since 1875, including the production of such things as metal chips, blanks, promotional, and souveniermunten. [With] the acquisition of KNM we now have a complementary product portfolio. This enables us to our ambition: to become world’s most competent coin house for small and medium-sized countries, realize.”
It was not known at the time this article was being written if Groep Heylen might take over production of coins for Belgium, or if the group might acquire the Belgian minting facility or its assets.
The Belgian mint began selling existing stock in collector coins at a deep discount immediately following the announcement of its closing. Anything still available can be purchased online from the mint’s website.
Belgium became an independent kingdom from that of the Netherlands in 1828. The Brussels Mint was founded two years later, utilizing a facility built in 1815. Circulation coinage commenced in 1832. In 1879 a more modern facility was opened in St. Gilles, producing gold, silver, and nickel composition coinage. It wasn’t until 1969 that the Mint of Belgium was renamed the Royal Mint of Belgium. The modern facility on the Boulevard Pacheco in Brussels was opened at that time. In recent years, Belgium joined the European Union’s currency union, minting euro denominated coins first released in 2002. Royal Mint of Belgium Chief Engraver Luc Luycks designed the “euro” side now used on all EU coinage.
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