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Thursday, July 29, 1999 Published at 11:54 GMT 12:54 UK

Special Report

Mint profits down in 'year of change'

The Royal Mint's launch of the £2 coin

The Royal Mint has reported a significant slump in its annual profits in the past year.

Operating profits for the south Wales plant halved to £5.8m and sales were also down 18 per cent after what it called an "exceptional year".

The gloomy profits were in spite of record levels of coin production - topping 3.8bn coins for the UK and 58 other countries.

[ image: Coin production reached record levels]
Coin production reached record levels
Roger Holmes, Deputy Master of the Mint, said the pace of change in the last year had brought about the downturn in performance.

Permission has been given for the Mint to expand its business into commerical activities such as jewellery manufacture.

The profits report comes shortly after the government's announcement that it will not be privatising the Mint's coin production work. The announcement was welcomed by the Llantrisant plant's 1,000 workers.

Government officials had wanted the Royal Mint to enjoy greater commercial freedom to win business, in addition to its contract to mint euro coins for seven European countries.

The Royal Mint has been producing British coins for 1,000 years and has fought off privatisation on previous occasions.

Moves to input private capital into the Mint were introduced in 1998 by the Chancellor Gordon Brown, keen to show an imaginative step forward in generating capital investment for private services.

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