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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 July, 2004, 17:42 GMT 18:42 UK
Bank closes collectors' gold mine
Sri Lankan gold and silver commemorative coins
Sales have halted pending a revision of prices
Sri Lanka's central bank has halted sales of gold and silver commemorative coins after the value of the metals soared above the asking price.

The bank issued the 5,000-rupee ($48) gold coin to mark the golden jubilee of independence in 1998.

The bank actually sold it at 8,000 rupees to earn a good mark-up, but soaring gold rates now put the coin's value at 10,000 rupees.

The 1,000-rupee silver coin is a similar story - it's now worth 1,200.

Quiet suspension

The coins were becoming a gold - and silver - mine for collectors.

"We stopped the sale of the gold and silver coins pending a revision of prices," the bank's superintendent of currency, S Wijesinghe, told the AFP news agency on Wednesday.

"The gold value in the coin is more than the current market price."

Sales were quietly suspended last month.

About 4,100 people bought the 5,000 rupee gold coin (at 8,000 rupees) before the suspension.

Although melting down the coins for their metal value makes good economic sense, it would be illegal.

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