MONTREAL (Reuters) - The Royal Canadian Mint is on track to raise sales of its silver bullion coins by around 30 percent to 25 million ounces this year and to match last year's record gold sales of around 1 million ounces, an executive from the Mint said.
Speaking on the sidelines of the London Bullion Market Association annual conference, John Moore, executive director of bullion and refinery services at the Mint, told Reuters investors believed silver had more room to rise than gold.
"In terms of our sales this year, year to date we're tracking to the same volumes as we had last year in gold, which were record volumes for us. heading toward a million ounces," he said.
"In silver, we are 30 percent ahead of where we were last year," he said. "We finished last year with 18 million ounces of silver (sales). We are looking at increasing those sales by about 30 percent to the end of this year, to around 25 million ounces."
While silver sales have been strong, very few scrap coins are being returned to the market despite a rally in silver prices to record highs near $50 an ounce in late April.
The metal dropped sharply from that high, however, falling by around a third in just six sessions after its record high, unsettling some investors.
"Analysts are still calling for silver to follow gold and go back up to $50," Moore said. "If you believe gold is going to $2,000, you will probably believe that silver will follow it and go to $50."
Moore said an increase to 25 million ounces of annual output would put the Mint toward the high end of its capacity. Increasing output capacity would be considered if demand continues to rise, he said.
The Royal Canadian Mint refines and produces Maple Leaf bullion coins, gold kilo bars, trade bars and gold wafers, as well as one-ounce silver, platinum and palladium coins.
Reporting by Jan Harvey