Shortage of 5, 10 and 20 euro cent coins in Belgium

Started by eurocoin, July 04, 2022, 08:42:02 PM

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Shortage of 5 and 10 cent coins due to the war

Do you also have a piggy bank full of 5 and 10 cent coins at home? Then exchange them as quickly as possible, the National Bank asks. After all, the production of those small coins has come to a standstill due to a lack of raw materials, especially copper. The cause is the war in Ukraine and the sanctions imposed against Russia.

Since 2018, the production of coins for our country has been outsourced to an external partner, the Royal Dutch Mint (KNM). But there the production of small coins of 5 and 10 euro cents has come to a standstill. And that becomes a problem for many shopkeepers who are gradually running out of change. Like so many other sectors in Europe, the coin and medal sector is currently facing a resource problem that is causing significant delays in the delivery of the necessary production materials. As a result, there is currently a shortage of 5 and 10 euro cent coins, says Francis Adyns of the FPS Finance.

The 10-cent yellow (Nordic Gold) coins are composed of 89 percent copper, 5 percent aluminum, 5 percent zinc, and 1 percent tin. A shortage of copper is now also causing a production break for the 5 cents. With a scarcity of these coins as a result. The problem does not arise for the other currencies.

Cash payments are falling

However, there have never been more coins in circulation than now, namely 762 million 5-cent pieces and 469 million 10-cent pieces. But cash payments are declining noticeably. Even to buy a loaf of bread or a newspaper more and more people pay by card.

"Strangely enough, the declining cash use in our country is accompanied by an increasing demand for coins. And on top of the production issues now, too many of those little coins are being hoarded. Studies abroad show that a household has an average of 26 euros worth of unused coins. We therefore call on everyone to use them or to exchange them at the bank", says Adyns.

Source: Nieuwsblad


Not good at all that Royal Dutch Mint is unable to supply. For quite some time I was already planning to get a large quantity of 5 and 10 euro cent coins for coin roll hunting from my bank in Belgium soon. It seems unlikely that is going to happen now.

Just checked this with my Belgian bank which has the following notification on its order website:

"At the moment, coins of 5 and 10 euro cents are very scarce in Belgium. The stocks of the banks are even running out. That is why you can currently order no more than 1 roll of 5 euro cents and 1 roll of 10 euro cents".

The situation seems pretty bad indeed if people can only order 1 roll of respectively 50 and 40 pieces of these denominations.


In another, more extensive version of the article, there is being mentioned that there has been no production of new Belgian 5 and 10 euro cent coins for months. Furthermore the spokesman of the Belgian Finance Ministry is quoted as saying that more countries are experiencing issues at the moment. Belgian supermarkets seem to be the most affected. The Aldi supermarket  will soon start an information campaign warning customers that it is possible that they will not receive the correct amount as change, and the Colruyt and Carrefour supermarkts will also ask consumers to pay by card, and if not, to then (preferably) pay the correct amount in cash.

These are things that normally happen in third world countries. Instead of change people there usually receive sweets.


Call me cynical, but I think this is baloney. Not that individual supermarkets are experiencing a shortage - they clearly are - but rather the reasons for it. The amount of metal involved in coin production is tiny compared to, say, the automotive or armaments industry. If the war in Ukraine is having such acute effects on coin production, you'd expect it to also be affecting those other industries. The automotive industry is having supply problems, sure, but they're related to semiconductors and the rare earth metals associated with them, not steel or copper.

It's hard to escape the suspicion that this is the latest ploy by a combination of governments and business to wean us off cash because they want to abolish it. They got quite a long way along this road by peddling the myth that covid could be transmitted by cash and that shopping with cash was therefore the direct equivalent of coughing in your granny's face. But covid and its restrictions have reduced in severity and calls to avoid cash for that reason no longer have the impact they did two years ago.

It's also interesting to note where these problems are happening. I don't know about Belgium, but the war on cash seems to be more advanced in the UK and certainly Sweden than anywhere in between (I've just driven to the former from the latter, passing through DK, DE and NL). Having presumed that we could pay by card in grocery shops, we were slightly caught out in DE and NL by a sudden need for cash on a number of occasions, something that never seems to be an issue in SE or UK. So the "shortages" are affecting those countries where people still use cash for groceries to a larger extent, to re-educate the proletariat.


Well, well, well. FosseWay is the latest person to fall victim to "conspiracy theory disease". Who'd have thought it? The times we live in, eh! Proof, if it were needed, that we are all trapped inside the Matrix.  :-X

Of course, some conspiracies do happen, but it's usually only years later that we find out which were real - by which time it's too late to matter.
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.


I agree with the baloney part, though I do think bologna should not be talked down like that ;)

The metal that goes into the 5 cent is exactly the same as what goes into the 1 and 2 cent and the 20 and 50 cent are made of the same metal as the 10 cent.

There are two cases in the universe. Case 1, production is ongoing. The obvious solution is to produce/order less 20 and 50 cent and the metal saved into the production of 10 cent pieces. Similar for the 1, 2 and 5 cent coins.

Case 2, there is no production of coins other than fluff and regular 1 and 2 euro pieces. The solution is equally simple: do a trade with another euro country. It was the Dutch mint that concluded such a trade with the Finnish mint some years back. Have they forgotten how to do it now?

BTW, one solution does not exclude another.

I don't believe in any plot that involves any government, because such plots could not be kept secret. The Belgian owners of the Dutch mint could be plotting in theory, but why would less coins in circulation be in their interest? The banks surely want to handle less coins, but they are finding it difficult enough to get the 1 and 2 cent abolished. Why muddy the water with an action against the 5 and 10?

For the record, copper production  in 2021 was at a record high in the last 10 years (source), top producers are Chile, Peru, China, Congo and the US. (source). The top exporters in 2020 of Copper Ore were Chile ($21.4B), Peru ($9.23B), Australia ($3.85B), Canada ($3.12B), and Mexico ($2.92B).

The best I can think of is that the Dutch mint bungled badly when they ordered coin blanks. They tried re-balancing the order and found that delivery would be delayed. Nevertheless, a delay caused by shipping is far more likely than a shortage of copper. Since the mint can't blame the EU, they blamed it on the Russians. If that's a plot, father Christmas also qualifies :)

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.


Today, the Belgian treasury provided the media with an update on the shortage of the 5 and 10 euro cent coins. There is no solution in sight. Furthermore they mentioned that they do not rule out that there will also be a critical shortage of the 20 euro cent denomination in the coming weeks or months. They claimed that they do still have sufficient stock of the 50 euro cent, 1 euro and 2 euro denominations.

I had already noticed that there was also something strange going on with the 20 euro cent denomination. On Wednesday I went coin roll hunting, as I had amongst other things ordered thousands of 20 euro cent coins from my bank in Belgium. To my surprise, around half of the coins that I received were circulated 20 euro cent coins of Slovakia dated 2009 (the only date that they ever minted for circulation), that were mixed in rolls with circulated coins of other countries, which I thought strange. It seems that Belgium already had a signficiant shortage of the 20 euro cent coin and had recently obtained a large quantity of leftover stock from Slovakia to temporarily solve this.

This situation is really starting to become ridiculous. The Belgian government should find a solution for this shortage, instead of just saying that people can instead pay by card. It seems that they do not care about it.


Quote from: eurocoin on July 16, 2022, 03:09:56 PMIt seems that Belgium already had a signficiant shortage of the 20 euro cent coin and had recently obtained a large quantity of leftover stock from Slovakia to temporarily solve this.

You shouldn't be surprised to see 2008-dated 20c coins from Malta soon. A trading buddy of mine was in Malta a few months ago. He got many brand new Maltese 20c in change.

And yes, this whole shortage of coins is ridiculous. But these are the times we are living in.  :(


At least at this time, that seems to be Belgian problem. So headlines such as "... door oorlog in Oekraïne" are weird.

One funny (or rather not so funny) aspect is: Wouldn't non-cash payments also be affected by material shortage? Contrary to what FosseWay experienced, I have never come across a grocery store in Germany - well, not in the past few years - that would not accept plastic. (The big exception was the problem with certain Verifone payment terminals, but that was for a couple of days in late May. Apart from that, nah.) Sure, not every place accepts every card type ...

The reason why I mentioned "non-cash" is the ICs built into the cards. So if your credit or debit card is good for another couple of months or years, fine. But my health insurance for example just informed me that my expiring card will not be replaced right away (OK, I do not actually pay with that ;) ) due to a semiconductor shortage.


Quote from: chrisild on July 16, 2022, 07:41:53 PMContrary to what FosseWay experienced, I have never come across a grocery store in Germany - well, not in the past few years - that would not accept plastic.

First of all, you are a ''big city guy.'' Been in the countryside lately?  ;)

Secondly, define ''grocery store.'' Of course, all the major (and minor) chains accept plastic. Small and/or independent stores, well, that can be difficult, although not as much as in previous years (I admit that).


Quote from: redlock on July 17, 2022, 08:15:32 PMFirst of all, you are a ''big city guy.'' Been in the countryside lately?  ;)

Define "countryside". ;D  But admittedly I have not been to a grocery store (aka supermarket) without a chain affiliation for a long time. Now the small neighborhood stores (Kiosk, Büdchen, Späti ...) I would not include; those may still want cash.

Would be interesting to know whether the shortage in Belgium is driven by the government. As in, we do not have enough coins, we will not make any, so use other means of payment please. That I would be concerned about. I am not a big "cash fan", but a store - or government - that pushes me, more or less gently, towards plastic ... that I find suspicious.


Royal Mint of Belgium, which is in charge of maintaining the Belgian coin stock, did not reply to questions about the circulating coin production this year.


Quote from: eurocoin on July 26, 2022, 05:49:04 PMRoyal Mint of Belgium, which is in charge of maintaining the Belgian coin stock, did not reply to questions about the circulating coin production this year.

Let me guess. This outcome does not surprise you at all.

Perhaps, ''the truth'' about the shortage will come out eventually.


Belgium will only mint 5 euro cent coins for circulation this year. Even though, there is also a shortage of 10 euro cent coins, and the stocks of 20 euro cent coins are rapidly decreasing. Very remarkable.


Scarcity of 5 and 10 euro cent coins persists, no extra cash possible due to war in Ukraine

The shortage of 5 and 10 eurocent coins continues. This has been confirmed by the FPS Finance. Traders in particular are at a loss because they need these coins for change. It is not possible to mint them because raw materials have to come from Ukraine.

The shortage of five- and ten-cent coins is not new and will not be resolved. "However, there have never been as many coins in circulation as today," says Francis Adyns, spokesman for the FPS Finance. There are currently about 763 million five-cent coins and 470 million ten-cent coins in circulation. "That should be more than enough for payment traffic," Adyns reckons. Moreover, the majority of payments are now made digitally. Nevertheless, calls from merchants asking to pay with the small coins are still frequent. They themselves need them as change for customers paying in cash.

"People hoard the small coins at home", Adyns thinks. At the bakery, paying with five and ten cents takes more time and not everyone dares to do so when there is a queue of people waiting behind you. Yet this is the easiest way to solve the problem quickly: "everyone should put their coins back into circulation", says Adyns.

Another solution could be to mint more of the small coins. This is not possible for the time being because the raw materials come from Ukraine and the supply is stagnant. The Royal Mint of Belgium is looking for other solutions to reduce the scarcity.

Source: VRT