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Can ya break a million? Huge coins hit Canada

Got change for a million? Canada does: the world’s biggest pure gold coin at 220 pounds.
The Royal Canadian Mints' 220-pound pure gold coin takes about six weeks to manufacture.Tom Hanson / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Got change for a million? Canada does: the world’s biggest pure gold coin at 220 pounds.

Already, three buyers have shelled out for one of the 1 million Canadian dollar coins introduced last week.

The Royal Canadian mint made the coins — 20 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick — mostly to seize the bragging rights from Austria, which had the record with a 70-pound, 15-inch wide coin.

“They’re not doing this because there is huge demand for 100-kilo gold coins,” Bret Evans, editor of Canadian Coin News said Saturday. “They’re doing it because it gives them some bragging rights in having the largest purest gold coin in the world.”

“They’ll kick the Austrians out of the Guinness World Book of Records,” he said.

Listed as 99.999 percent pure gold bullion, the coin features Queen Elizabeth II on one side and Canada’s national symbol — the maple leaf — on the other.

It takes about six weeks to make and has a face value of 1 million Canadian dollars ($903,628), though it sells for approximately $2.7 million depending on the market value of gold.

The coins will give the mint a higher international profile.

“We wanted to raise the bar so that we could say the government of Canada, or the Royal Canadian Mint, produced the purest gold coins in the world,” said David Madge, the mint’s director of bullion and refinery services.

Austria’s coin 100,000 euro coin ($138,155) was 70 pounds and 15 inches in diameters.

Evans said the Canadian mint recently lost some market share as mints in Australia, Austria, China and the United States pushed their own high-quality gold coins.

What does one do with a 220-pound gold coin?

Evans said bullion dealers use it as a promotional tool. A Japanese dealer, he said, puts one of the Austrian coins in public venues to draw people’s attention.

“And while they’re looking at that, they are being exposed to the idea of buying one ounce or half-ounce gold coins,” he said.