May 6, 1913

FIRST READINGS.


Bill No. 190, for the relief of George Sentis Deslandes.-Mr. Emmerson. Bill No. 191, for the relief of Daisy Madeleine Peterson.-Mr. Nesbitt.


THE OTTAWA MINT.


On motion of Hon. W. T. White (Minister of Finance), Bill No. 184, to amend the Ottawa Mint Act, was read the second time and House went into Committee thereon. (Mr. W. H. Bennett in the Chair.)


CON

William Thomas White (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WHITE:

This matter was rather

fully discussed when the Committee of the Whole House had under consideration the resolution which preceded the Bill. On that occasion, I was able to give my right hon. friend (Sir Wilfrid Laurier), who appeared to be very much interested in the question of the Mint, a certain amount of information which he required; but I promised that I would supplement that information and obtain for him certain other statistics which he would like to have with regard to the operations of the Mint during the past year, the production of gold and silver in Canada, and the output of the Mint in respect to these precious metals. I understood that my right hon. friend wished me to place that information upon ' Hansard,' and I have endeavoured to obtain it in as concise a form as possible. I stated that the total amount of gold, silver and bronze monies coined by the Ottawa Mint from January 2, 1908, to March 31, 1913, that being the entire period of its operation, was $5,710,944.55, divided as follows:

Fifty cent [pieces $ 751,285 60

Twenty-five cent pieces .. 2,580,196 75

Ten cent pieces 1,393,582 20

Five cent pieces 979,880 10

Total $5,710,944 55

In addition, there were:

One cent pieces $ 222,801 70

Gold sovereigns 1,484,484 21

Canadian gold pieces 00

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LIB
CON

William Thomas White (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WHITE:

Five and ten dollar pieces. The number of issuable pieces coined during 1912, -vyhich was particularly inquired about by my right hon. friend, was as follows;

Value. $141,624 00 636,021 25 323,709 60 292,478 10 51,095 99 706,950 00 770,760 00

Total 17,209,837 $2,912,638 94

As to the gold production in 1912, in the * entire Dominion the amount was $12,559,443, divided as follows:

Yukon $5,540,000

British Columbia 5,167,390

Ontario 1,745,292

Gold received at the Mint for refining -during 1912 amounted to 101,636 gross ounces and came , from the following ^sources:

Gross ounces.

Nova Scotia.. 3,259

Ontario 11,666

Yukon 85,800

Quebec 911

Total 101,636

<3old coined in lyl2:

Sovereigns Nil.

Canadian $10 and $5....$1,477,740

Gold coined from. January 1 to March 31,

1913:

Sovereigns $ 18,079 66

$10 and $5 323,020 00

Total $341,099 66

"Fine gold bars sold by Mint, 1912, $236,532. In answer further to the question of my right hon. friend, I have ascertained that gold is purchased by the Mint at the rate *of $18.95 per ounce of standard fineness, i.e., 916 f'%ooo fine. I turn now to the question of silver.

Fine oz. Valued at.

Estimated production in

Canada, 1912 31,931,710 $19,425,656

Ontario . .29,190,122 ozs.

B. Colum.. 2,651,118 "

Exports of silver in ore,

&c 34,9111,922 19,494,416

Amount of silver purchased by Mint by

tender, 1912 755,000 .

Cobalt .. .. 70,000 ozs.

United .States 685,000 '

Silver obtained from gold

deposits 21,298-38

That was a matter in which my right hon. friend was quite interested. The prices .per fine ounce paid by the Mint during 1912 were: 59:2 cents to 64 -5 cents for 685,000 tine ounces purchased from the American Smelting and Refining Company, and 593 to 59S cents for 70,000 ounces purchased from She Coniagas mine.

Mr. WHITE. t

Cents.

Average monthly market price, 1912.. .. 60-895 Average monthly market price, 191-1.. .. 53-304

When the Mint requires silver for coinage purposes it asks the producers, Canadian and American, by letter from time to time during the year to tender .prices for stated quantities of silver and, of course, the lowest tenderer is given the order. The prices varied in 1912 as above noted. My right hon. friend asked on what basis the business of the Mint would .probably increase. That, of course, is a -matter of estimate only, but the increase in the past has been:

Silver monies coined:

.1908 $ 313,338 35

1912 1,383,832 95

Bronze monies coined:

1908

23,290 951912

51,095 99

Gold monies coined:

1908

3,095 201912

1,477,710 00

Amount of gold and silver refined for sundry persons and charges collected for same:

Silver

-Go-Id chlorides,

Year. Deposits. strips, &c. Charges.

Ounces. Ounces.

1909

5,779-68 14,039-44 $1,127 291912

105,568-08 34,214-07 4,927 63

' Gold deposits ' means gold sent to the Mint by miners or others. On arrival at the Mint it is melted down, assayed and its value ascertained; tihe price then is paid to the shipper, less charges, and the gold and subsidiary silver contents, become the property of the mint. The gold may then be -dealt with as the Mint wishes, either turned into coin or sold for bullion or mercantile purposes. Gold bars sold for mercantile purposes increased from $9,410 in 1910 to $295,592 in 1912, and gold -coin increased as shown elsewhere.

' Silver chlorides, strips, &c.,' is silver received from business concerns to be assayed. Silver for coining purposes is bought by the Mint by tender as already explained.

I might say further, in answer rather to what my right hon. friend had in his mind than to what he expressed, that it is the intention to enlarge the operations of the refinery in connection with the Mint and this year there is an appropriation for an addition to the building which will cost from $35,000 to $50,000. It is hoped by the deputy master of the Mint that he will gradually become in a position to refine and sell as bullion, or use for coin, all the gold production of Canada. With respect to silver, he points out that the plant required for silver refining is very much more extensive and that the question of freights is also important, so that the geographical position of the silver mines

No.

Fifty cent pieces .. .. 283,248

Twenty-five cent pieces. 2,504,085 Ten cent -pieces 3,237,096

Five cent pieces 5,849,562

One cent pieces 5,109,599

Canadian $10 pieces .. 70,695

Canadian $5 pieces.. .. 455,552

of Canada would have a somewhat important relationship to the place where the silver would be refined. There is not a market in Canada for our silver product. The market is in the

United States and chiefly in cities that are international money markets. I am not honeful that in the immediate future the refinery in connection with the Mint will be able to greatly increase its refining operations in silver. The anual expenditure for maintenance of the Mint and the refinery since its establishment in 1908 has been: 1908 1912

Salaries $27,000 $33,000Weekly wages

31,000 42,000Contingencies

12,000 18,000Total $71,000 $94,000

In 1908 there were sixteen officials and in 1912 eighteen; in 1908 there were forty-five workmen and in 1912, fifty-eight. The estimate for this year is slightly over $99,000, and I have provided in the Bill that the statutory appropriation of $75,000 which since 1910 has been supplemented by $25,000 in the estimates each year, shall be increased to $110,000 and the $25,000 in the estimates will not, for the immediate future, be required. The deputy master of the Mint informs me that he will require for the coming year three men additional on the staff, whose annual wage will aggregate $2,652, and one assistant assayer at a salary of $1,460. This brings the estimated annual expenditure for 1913 to $104,000. It was stated in the former discussion that there was a very considerable seigniorage on the silver issued by the Canadian Mint resulting form the enhanced value of the coin over the intrinsic value of the silver. The arrangement entered into by my predecessor, Mr. Fielding, in 1906, for deporting to the United States large amounts of American silver, has been efficacious, and has enured to the benefit of the Canadian Government by reason of our silver displacing the American silver. It was arranged with the Canadian Bankers' Association that the banks were to ship to the United States all American silver and bronze coins received by them, the Government to pay the banks three-eighths of one per cent on all such coin deported, and, in addition, the transportation charges. The amount deported in this way has been:

1909- 10 $ 900,000

1910- 11

1,500,0001911- 12

1,791,0001912- 13

1,800,000

The total charges incurred by the Government in- connection with that deportation has been:

1909- 10 $ 8,493

1910- 11

13,0001911- 12

12,0001912- 13

13,000

Total

I have a memorandum showing the deportation of silver by provinces, which will indicate the points at which the American silver comes in. During the years 1909, 1910, 1911, 1912, there was deported from Ontario, American silver amounting to $2,200,000; from Quebec, $760,000; from Nova Scotia $82,000; from New Brunswick: $78,000; from Manitoba $780,000; from British Columbia $1,694,000; from Alberta $323,000; from Saskatchewan $180,000. I think this covers all the information mjr right hon. friend the leader of the Opposition has asked for, but if there is anything else I shall be happy to get it for him.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

The information given by the Minister of Finance is-all I expected, and I am thankful to him,

I believe the House and the country will be interested in the figures he has given. The operation of the Mint has been, up to the present, somewhat mysterious and nobody seems to have known exactly what took place there. There are two points on which I have a word of comment. I understand the Minister of Finance expects that in a few years the Mint will be able to refine and dispose of all the gold produced in Canada either in the shape ol coin or bullion for export, but the hon. gentleman has no such expectation with regard to silver. The production of silver-in Canada is increasing from year to year until I think to-day Canada is the largest, producing silver country in the world. Up-to the present the American market is-the only market we have had for our silver, and it is sent to the United States in the shape of ore, not refined in this country. At present, all the silver produced in: Canada goes to New York, is refined in>

New York, and what is not consumed in. the United States is exported in bars to-European markets. Everyone who has travelled from New York to Liverpool knows that no inconsiderable part of the steamer's cargo is composed of silver bars shipped from New York to London, for distribution throughout Europe. Ten or twelve years ago, practically the whole of: that silver came chiefly from Colorado-and from other American territory, but at present a very large proportion of it comes from Cobalt. The Minister of Finance has-stated that the question of freight is the-impediment to the export of silver direct from Canada, and I would like to have some explanation from him on that point. I cannot see why the charges from Cobalt to Ottawa should be higher than from-Cobalt to New York, or the charges from: Ottawa to Liverpool higher than from New York to Liverpool.

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$48,000 COMMONS

CON

William Thomas White (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WHITE (Minister of Finance) :

Gold comes to the Mint by registered mail. So that from the Yukon it would come almost as cheaply as from points in the United States that are much nearer. If the silver production of Canada could all be exported to Great Britain, I think that my right hon. friend's point would be well taken. But, as the American market is an important market, he will see that there is more advantage in sending silver ore to New York to be refined and sold than in bringing it to Ottawa. I think that is what the deputy master of the Mint had in mind, and it was from him I got the information I am giving the committee. He pointed out also that private enterprise was engaged in the refining of silver, and he evidently had the view that was a consideration which should be borne in mind. Something, I have no doubt, has to be allowed for that. In addition to that, he pointed out, and I think with good reason, though it would not' be conclusive reason against the Government undertaking the operation, that the enterprise of silver refining on a large scale would require rather extensive operations involving a very costly plant entirely different in character from that which is utilized in the refining of gold which is of more limited quantity. These are the considerations which he laid before me and w7hich I lay before my right hon. friend and the House.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

This is a

technical subject, and one that requires a good deal of information. Of course, the American market is a large consuming market for gold. A good deal of the gold refined in New York is consumed in the United States and perhaps as large a proportion of it goes to Europe. But the silver to-day is shipped to the United States in the shape of ore. The freight ought to be much more considerable, I should say, than if the silver were refined in Canada and exported in bars. This seems true on the face of it because there is a lprge proportion of dross shipped with the silver in the ore, and freight has to be paid on all. It may be that we are not prepared to^ put up so costly a plant as the hon. minister refers to, and it may be that the market here is not sufficiently large to justify us in doing so. But I hope the day will come, and sooner rather than later, when we shall refine our own silver and consume it ourselves.

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CON

William Thomas White (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WHITE (Minister of Finance):

I

am glad to have the benefit of the views of my right hon. friend. This is a matter of much interest to the House and to the country and I shall be glad to pursue my investigations further in order to ascertain, if it be possible, whether the Government should undertake the refining of silver upon a large scale. This is a matter Sir WILFRID LAURIER,

of national importance, and I am entirely in sympathy with the view that, if possible, all refining of our own ores should be done in this country. This was drawn to my attention not long ago in connection with the question of export duty upon certain ores, and I found then that the question of a market was of supreme importance. The right hon. gentleman has rightly said that this is a technical question, but I desire to assure him that it has had and will continue to have my careful attention. I think that we are of one view and desire, that is, that this refining of our ores should be carried on in Canada. Our mineral production is increasing year by year in a most gratifying fashion, and I thiqk that that will be the history of the future as it has been of the past. It is obvious that having the minerals, our policy should be directed to the end of refining them here and doing everything we can to make them profitable.

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CON

Alfred Thompson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ALFRED THOMPSON (Yukon):

I am glad to hear the Minister of Finance give expression to hi.s sentiments in favour of the refining in Canada of the precious metals produced in the four corners of our country, and also to hear him say that our Mint will eventually absorb all the gold we produce. This is a matter of very considerable importance. There is no doubt in my mind that our Pacific Coast cities lost a large amount of trade-in the early days of the Yukon because we had not the means in Canada of handling our gold. Everyone knows that there is practically no profit in handling gold of the standard fineness; it is the same as trading sovereigns. But we found in the Yukon that where the miners sell their gold they are very likely to buy their supplies-within a well-defined distance. If a man sold his gold in Ottawa he might or might not buy his supplies in Ottawa; but if he were a miner in the Yukon and sold his gold in Seattle he would be pretty sure to buy his supplies in Seattle. That is, considering Vancouver as against Seattle, where the miner sold his gold he would be likely to buy his supplies, unless the tariff on the goods were of a prohibitive character. I desire to ask the Minister of Finance how he expects the gold that we shall produce from time to time to be absorbed, over and above what we are now able to absorb, having in view the very large amount of American gold which is found in the vaults of our banks and government depositories.

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CON

William Thomas White (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WHITE (Minister of Finance):

We hope it will be refined and sold in gold bars. I gave some figures when the matter was under consideration before, showing that we had sold fine gold bars during the calendar year 1912, to the amount of nearly $300,000. That could be increased in-

definitely. I pointed out, I think before my hon. friend came to the House this afternoon, that we were establishing a refinery at the Mint that would cost possibly $50,000 to improve and Increase the work in connection with our gold refining.

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LIB
CON

William Thomas White (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WHITE:

We did, but since we began issuing our Canadian gold coinage very few have been struck. .

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LIB

James Joseph Hughes

Liberal

Mr. HUGHES:

Do not they market

British sovereigns in the United States and generally at a premium?

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CON

William Thomas White (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WHITE:

I think not, as against

American gold, for while American gold is not of the same fineness as the British intrinsically it is of the same value. There may he times when British sovereigns are more in demand on the% occasion of a stringency or in some similar condition, but I do not see why they should be at a premium there generally.

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LIB

James Joseph Hughes

Liberal

Mr. HUGHES:

They are at a premium

there now, and I understand that that is generally, if not always, the condition.

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CON

William Thomas White (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WHITE:

I have not directed my

attention to that point. I have no knowledge of it. I do not see why it should be so.

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May 6, 1913