The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, Chris Pearce MP, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration, Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, have officially marked the commencement of major refurbishment works at the Royal Australian Mint in Canberra.

Stage 1 of the 6 stage project commenced with the excavation of a tunnel in the Mint's basement.

"Since 1965, the Mint's facilities have had only minor renovations. The refurbishment will ensure the Mint retains its world class status and will provide much improved amenity for staff and the thousands of visitors to the Mint each year," said Mr Pearce.

"The Mint, one of Canberra's landmark buildings, was built in 1965. Since then the Mint has produced over 14 billion decimal coins, and last financial year added 634 million coins to Australia's stock of coins," said Mr Pearce."Clearly the demand for coin remains healthy despite the growth in credit cards and electronic transactions," Mr Pearce added.

The refurbishment project, which is being undertaken with Australian Government funding of approximately $41.2 million, is scheduled to be finalised in 2009. It will provide a much needed facelift for one of Australia's most important National Institutions.

"The Department of Finance and Administration manages the Mint buildings, and is working with all the parties involved to ensure that the project meets the Mint's future requirements, with consideration given to minimise disruptions to the Mint's operations," said Senator Colbeck.

"The Mint has accepted an invitation from the Office of the Federal Safety Commissioner to participate in its "model client initiative", with the Mint refurbishment project being a showcase for occupational health and safety management in the construction industry," said Senator Colbeck.