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Archive for Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Congress looking at steel pennies, nickels

May 7, 2008

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— Further evidence that times are tough: It now costs more than a penny to make a penny. And the cost of a nickel is more than 7 1/2 cents.

Surging prices for copper, zinc and nickel have some in Congress trying to bring back the steel-made pennies of World War II, and maybe using steel for nickels, as well.

Copper and nickel prices have tripled since 2003 and the price of zinc has quadrupled, said Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., whose subcommittee oversees the U.S. Mint.

Keeping the coin content means "contributing to our national debt by almost as much as the coin is worth," Gutierrez said.

A penny, which consists of 97.5 percent zinc and 2.5 percent copper, cost 1.26 cents to make as of Tuesday. And a nickel - 75 percent copper and the rest nickel - cost 7.7 cents, based on current commodity prices, according to the Mint.

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