October 5, 2022

The World’s Most Unusual Coin Is Made With An Element You Never Heard Of

One of the strangest and most unique coins I have ever come across is made of a chemical element that most people have never heard of.  Unless you are a chemist or work in the specialty steel industry, figuring out what Niobium is would probably require a search on the internet.

Despite the lack of popular knowledge about Niobium, it is the 33rd most common element in the earth’s crust.  The two countries that produce the majority of the world’s supply of Niobium are Canada and Brazil.  World production of Niobium amounted to almost 45,000 metric tons in 2006, with most of that being used for the production of high-grade structural steel.  Due to its high melting point and superconducting ability, Niobium is also essential in the production of modern high tech products such as jet engines and superconducting magnets used in MRI scanners.

The unique properties and color of Niobium have been exploited by the Austrian Mint which has produced one of the most unique and beautiful coins in the world.  According to the Mint News Blog, the Austrian Mint will produce 65,000 coins during 2013 made of Niobium and silver.

Each year since 2003, the Austrian Mint has released a coin composed of an outer silver ring and colored inner niobium core to explore a range of technological themes. The series has featured intricate designs with an array of colors created through anodized oxidation, whereby a thin oxide layer is produced to enable different colors to arise.

The 2013 Tunnel Construction 25 Euro Coin features a present-day runnel boring machine positioned within the ice blue niobium core. There are three arrow to show the rotating motion of the machine. The outer silver ring shows the mountains which the machine pierces. The reverse design shows a road tunnel within Austria’s alpine landscape. The silver ring contains an image of a worker using a drill to loosen rock. The word “Tunnelbau” (tunnel construction) appears at the base.

The coins are produced in special uncirculated quality with a maximum mintage of 65,000 pieces. Each coin contains 9 grams of .900 silver and 6.5 grams of .998 pure niobium. Each coin comes in a capsule and outer box with numbered certificate of authenticity.

The product page on the Austrian Mint website can be found here. These coins will also likely be widely available from world coin dealers.

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