Why is the cost of production of US coins relatively much greater than other currencies?

By Alan Chenkin, Novice coin collector and hobbyist

US coins are backed by the might and presence of the US government. The US Mint produces all the coins and distributes them through regulated channels, and at high security.

In the UK, according to the Royal Mint: ”

The cost of producing United Kingdom coins varies according to the specification of each denomination. The value of metal in each coin accounts for a large part of the total cost, but it is also necessary to take into consideration the broader costs of the manufacturing process. These vary according to the complexity of the coin.  The Royal Mint does not reveal exactly how much it costs to make specific coins as such information could be used to its competitors’ advantage.”

While there is speculation that mints worldwide have similar issues to the US, I will focus on US coins.  It is generally acknowledged that the mint spends more on manufacturing pennies and nickels than than they are worth.

The coins (and notes) are minted to be as unique and resistant to copying as possible. As such, many of our minted coins are made of valuable metals vs. cheap alloys. sometimes these metals exceed the value of the coins. Even “cheap” metals, like zinc (used as a filler to reduce the copper content in a penny) have increased in cost over time.

Production is in the US, by Federal employees, paid on government pay grade. Private companies and other governments may be able to produce cheaper coins, but these are not backed fully by the US Government…

Penny Manufacture Cost – verified by Snopes
US Coins have a lot of detail (detail = expense) to prevent counterfeiters and criminals from stamping out copies of US Coins.  This extreme attention to detail (like seeing President Lincoln sitting in the Lincoln Memorial – see penny below) is visible under magnification.  “The Lincoln cent (or sometimes called Lincoln penny) is a one-cent coin that has been struck by the United States Mint since 1909. The obverse or heads side was designed by Victor David Brenner, as was the original reverse.” – From Wikipedia
If you click on it, the penny image will open in a new tab, and you can magnify it further using your browsers zoom settings.
You can tour the US Mint in Philadelphia and see how most coins are made.  I have been there, and it is an impressive operation.  In addition to the minting operation, debate about the design, the artist, and size considerations may take years.  Take a look at How new coins are designed.
If the US goes to all this effort to make a penny unique and secure, you can see we take our coinage seriously.  And it is not cheap! 
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Edited and expanded from my Quora answer
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