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TORONTO (Reuters)- The Royal Canadian Mint is missing about C$18.8 million ($16.2 million) worth of gold and has not ruled out theft even as it continues to try to solve the mystery, according to an official on Tuesday.
An independent review by of the Mint's records found a discrepancy of 17,500 troy ounces of gold -- worth about C$18.8 million at current prices -- between the Mint's accounting and its physical count of precious metal done at the end of 2008.
The Mint refines 5.4 million troy ounces of gold a year, turning raw metal and scrap jewelry into 400-ounce bars.
The Mint alerted the Royal Canadian Mounted Police about the missing gold on June 9, but the RCMP has not decided whether it would launch an investigation, a spokeswoman for the Mint said.
"All possible explanations for the inventory difference need to be investigated," the Mint said on its Web site.
In a joint statement Monday night, Transport Minister John Baird and Minister of State for Transport Rob Merrifield said Mint executives won't get any bonuses until the matter is resolved, according to the Globe and Mail newspaper.
"The Mint's still unexplained loss of precious metals is inexcusable," the ministers are quoted as saying. "The mint will be accountable."
Reporting by Louise Egan and Nina Lex; Editing by Frank McGurty