WASHINGTON -- Given rising metal prices, the pennies and nickels in your pocket are worth more melted down than their face value -- and that has the government worried.
U S Mint officials said yesterday they were putting into place rules prohibiting the melting down of 1-cent and 5-cent coins. The rules also limit the number of coins that can be shipped out of the country.
The new regulations prohibit melting 1-cent and 5-cent coins, with a penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 for people found in violation.
Because of the prevailing prices of copper, zinc, and nickel, the cost of producing pennies and nickels exceeds the face value of the coins.
A nickel is 25 percent nickel and 75 percent copper. The metal in one coin costs 6.99 cents for each 5-cent coin. When the Mint's cost of producing the coins is added, the total cost for each nickel is 8.34 cents.
Modern pennies have 2.5 percent copper content with zinc making up the rest of the coin. The current copper and zinc in a penny are worth 1.12 cents. The cost of production drives each penny's cost to 1.73 cents.