The Royal Australian Mint was commissioned to produce Australia's decimal coinage, introduced into circulation on 14 February 1966. The Mint began making its own coins on 22 February 1965. On that day HRH the Duke of Edinburgh inaugurated the Mint in Canberra and activated its first production run of coins. Prior to this date, Australia had been striking coins at the Perth, Sydney and Melbourne Mints, which were actually branches of the Royal Mint, London. Australia bought its coins from the Royal Mint until 1965.
The first moves for Australia to mint its own coins had occurred shortly after Federation in 1901. After World War I it was decided that one of the first buildings to be erected in Canberra should be an Australian mint. The Depression and World War II thwarted these moves, and it was only in the 1950s that serious moves were made. A leading US Mint official was invited to visit, and in 1959 and 1960 Australian coinage experts took overseas trips to gather information. Finally, in 1962, the Government approved a construction timetable and in 1963 the construction contract was let.
The new mint was housed in a long, two-storied building, with a floor space of 100 yards square including five vaults. It cost $9,000,000 to build and outfit, including $4,000,000 for equipment. The first staff moved into the building just 12 months after the contract was let. Sixty-one employees of the Melbourne and Perth Mints joined the Royal Australian Mint. By 1969 it was recorded that about 250 people worked at the Mint.
At the outset, production processes at the Mint included the manufacture of cupro-nickel, coinage bronze and silver blanks (melting, rolling and blanking) together with striking, packaging and distribution of the finished product. The Mint also began to manufacture medals, medallions, seals and tokens for the private and public sectors. These include The Order of Australia, Third Pacific Conference Games Medallions, Sydney Monorail token and Conrad Jupiter's Casino tokens.
The manufacture of blanks ceased in 1987, followed by a major refurbishment of the production facilities.
Today the Mint is open to public visitors seven days per week.
Gartner, John and Dean, John (1969). The Royal Australian Mint. Australian Coin Review. October, pp.1-11.
Royal Australian Mint website http://www.ramint.gov.au
Australian Coin Review. November 1969, pp.11-12.