New coins to stop ‘nickel extraction’
The decision of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to introduce a new series of coins was meant to deter foreign entities from stealing large quantities of the local specie to extract their nickel content.
In a press briefing, BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said that the New Generation Currency coin series launched on Monday was made of nickel-plated steel instead of the old series that had a high degree of nickel content.
“That’s why we detected entities from at least two foreign countries who used to buy the old P1 coins for P2 or P3, and then shipping them out,” he said, adding that several of these bulk shipments—often filling entire metal shipping containers—were intercepted by the Bureau of Customs on their way out of the country.
“The valuable metals are extracted and used for other purposes, especially nickel,” he said.
Guinigundo did not specify which country the illegally exported Philippine coins were sent to, but BSP officials had earlier said that most were scooped up by Chinese buyers who then melt them to extract the valuable nickel, which was then recycled for industrial purposes in the resource-hungry economy, the world’s second largest.
Nickel is highly resistant to corrosion and, as such, is a key element for making stainless steel alloys.
“This new generation coins will remedy that problem, he said, explaining that the series would be made mainly of steel, with only a double plating of nickel for protection—not enough to be harvested in bulk.
On Monday, Guinigundo unveiled the full set of the New Generation Currency coins comprised of the 10-, 5-, 1-Piso and 25-, 5- and the 1-Sentimo into circulation (the 10-Sentimo coin was phased out).
The new series design features enhanced the aesthetics and security of the coins. In particular, micro-printed details using laser-engraving technology were included in the two highest denominated coins, the 10-Piso and 5-Piso, which makes it difficult for these coins to be duplicated using traditional coin counterfeiting methods.
The coins, which appear as “metallic silver,” addresses concerns on discoloration predominantly observed for copper-based metals.
The new coins will feature the new BSP logo, three national heroes (Apolinario Mabini in the 10-Piso, Andres Bonifacio in the 5-Piso and Jose Rizal in the 1-Piso), a stylized three stars and a sun in the 25-, 5- and 1-Sentimo, and endemic flora consistent with the design of the new banknote series that highlights Philippine fauna.
“The differences between the new and old coins can be best appreciated through visual means and tactile familiarization,” Guinigundo said.
The old coins will remain legal tender and can be used alongside the new series for day-to-day transactions to pay for goods and services, until such time as the BSP calls for their demonetization.
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