Seven times a day, the Perth Mint hosts a public gold pour at its downtown location in the Western Australian city. A 14-pound gold bar is melted at 1,945F (1,063C) in a crucible made of clay and graphite. The liquid is then poured into a cast-iron mold, where it hardens into a bar in about 90 seconds. It needs an additional 15 seconds from the time it’s placed in a quenching tank filled with tap water until the bar is “cool to the touch,” Chief Executive Officer Richard Hayes says.
The same gold bar has been melted and cast more than 65,000 times since the mint opened its doors to visitors in 1993, Hayes says. In that time, it has been worth as little as $51,000—in 1999—to as much as $390,000—in 2011. At a price of $1,310 an ounce on Feb. 14 the bar was worth about $267,000. At the end of each day, it’s stored in one of the mint’s vaults.