* Strong demand expected for gold and silver coins in 2011
* Coin sales boosted by new products, global metals demand
By Jan Harvey
LONDON, Feb 28 (Reuters) - The UK Royal Mint’s gold and silver coin sales doubled year-on-year in January to 63,000 ounces, lifted in part by the launch of new commemorative coins for the 2012 Olympics and the Royal engagement, the Mint said.
The Mint chiefly produces commemorative and collectable coins including gold bullion sovereigns, half sovereigns and quarter sovereigns in 22-carat gold.
The Mint’s head of sales, Jonathan Cockroft, said the trend for higher sales was expected to continue this year and was partly due to new products such as a range of Olympic 50 pence pieces and the first Royal Engagement coin.
“The Royal Mint enjoyed strong sales of gold and silver in 2010, and indicators suggest that this sales growth is continuing into 2011,” Cockroft said.
“High global demand for gold and silver makes the Royal Mint’s precious metal products increasingly sought after.”
Last year the Mint’s gold coin sales totalled 110,287 ounces of gold, down from 2009’s stellar 118,374 ounces but well up on the 32,629 ounces sold in 2008.
Silver coin sales last year totalled 368,991 ounces, against 388,129 ounces in 2009 and 179,480 in 2008.
Demand for gold coins has risen sharply in recent years as investors have turned to bullion as a hedge against currency market instability and economic turmoil.
Gold prices have risen more than 50 percent since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in late 2008, touching a record $1,430.95 an ounce in December. On Monday the metal was bid at around $1,410 an ounce in mid-afternoon trade.
Silver prices have also risen in gold’s wake, hitting their highest since 1980 earlier this month at $34.30 an ounce.
Demand for silver coins particularly strong, with sales of silver bullion coins by the United States Mint rising 79 percent in January to 6.422 million ounces.
Reporting by Jan Harvey; Editing by Jane Baird