New equipment means Chile will take over banknote printing

The US$90 million investment also means the Andean nation may take on currency printing for neighboring countries.


A US$90 million investment in new, state-of-the-art equipment means currency printing might soon return to Chile, according to a report in the local newspaper La Tercera. The new equipment, which was purchased from a company in Geneva, will soon allow the Chilean Mint to print the nation’s new, fraud-proof bills. The equipment purchase is the largest investment in the Mint’s 270-year history.

Chile’s new banknotes were first introduced in 2009 and were designed by the Swedish company Crane AB. They include a variety of modern anti-counterfeiting designs that include watermarks, microprinting and holograms. The bills are also different sizes, to aid those with vision difficulties. The most heavily used notes — those of 1000, 2000 and 5000 peso denominations — are made of a special polymer paper that is designed to lower the currency’s carbon footprint as well as increase its durability. The 10,000 and 20,000 peso bills are printed on traditional cotton-based paper to lower costs.

The Mint’s new equipment, which will employ 68 workers once it is operational, will take over the banknote printing from an Australian firm that was contracted until the equipment and facilities could be modernized. The new printing equipment will be able to produce Chilean currency — from raw materials to delivery to a bank — in six days.

However, the Mint’s new production facilities will not be limited to domestic production alone.

“Part of the idea of installing this new machinery was to have the technical capacity to make banknotes for any country in the world,” Francisco Mandiola, the Mint’s general manager, said.

That means that Chile, once the equipment is fully installed and operational, will move from outsourcing the production of banknotes to being a country to which currency printing is outsourced.

The Chilean Mint is one of the country’s oldest institutions. Dating back to the Spanish colonial era, when Santiago was the site of one of the largest and most important mints in South America, it was once housed in what is now the presidential palace. The name of the palace — La Moneda — translates to “the coin” and refers to its origin as the home of the city’s coin makers.