With demand for gold coins on the rise globally, the U.S. Mint announced plans this week to begin offering a new 24-karat gold bullion coin early next year, the Associated Press reported.
The Mint currently offers a 22-karat American Eagle gold bullion coin, which contains 91.67 percent gold and the rest is made up of other alloys. To achieve the 24-karat tag, the new coin must contain 99.99 percent gold, the AP reported.
The new coin will be the Mint's first 24-karat gold coin and is being made in response to investors demand for the purer gold coin. The American Eagle coin is the best selling gold coin in North America, but the Mint estimates the possible global market for the 24-karat coin at $2.4 billion annually, the AP reported.
"There is a demand, both here and abroad, for 24-karat gold coins," Mint Director Henrietta Holsman Fore told the AP. "We want to meet this demand by producing the highest quality and most beautiful coins in the world."
In December 1985, after then-President Ronald Reagan banned import of the South African gold Kruggerand, Congress authorized the sale of American Eagle coins. Before then, the U.S. last had a gold coin in general circulation in 1933. The American Eagle coin was made available in 1986.
The 22-karat American Eagle coins are available in face values of $5, $10, $25 and $50-the amounts of gold in each correspond to the face value-but sell for much more than that, with the $50 American Eagle coin selling for about $445 on Monday, the AP reported.