29th MDC in Thailand

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by Ursula Kampmann
translated by Annika Backe

May 19, 2016 – Every two years, within the framework of the Mint Directors Conference, the mints gather to exchange views on current problems. The MDC is a co-operation of the world’s most important mints which, on an international level, address issues of common interest.

An elephant welcomes the attendees of the MDC – on his back, he carries the logo of the 29th Mint Directors Conference. Photograph: UK.

For this purpose, there is the Internal Affairs Committee, as a kind of general assembly of all mints. It presides over the subcommittees, hence the Marketing Committee that focuses on the connection between the mint and the user or collector of a coin, and the Benchmarking Committee that develops a common standard for the coining industry. Finally, there is the Technical Committee that, in collaboration with the supplying industry, works on the solution of problems that concern more than one mint. The Technical Committee has a number of subcommittees that report on their ongoing work in the context of the MDC.

Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn opened the MDC. Photograph: Royal Thai Mint.

On Monday, May 2, 2016, Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn opened the Mint Directors Conference. To all those who have never before witnessed the ceremonies of elaborate court ceremonials it surely must have been an impressive sight. The many dazzling white uniforms, the national anthem, the floral decoration in the colors of the Princess’ flag, the golden microphone – all this created an atmosphere very different from what we are used to when attending a congress.

The Princess visits the exhibition stands that had been prepared for the attendees of the Mint Directors Conference. Photograph: Royal Thai Mint.

After giving a short speech, the Princess, with great interest, viewed the exhibitors’ stands that had been prepared in the lobby of the MDC. According to the media, she is quite interested in modern technology and likes to amaze her interlocutors with her specialized knowledge. She is fluent in English, French and Chinese, and is even said to be learning German. Whatever questions she may have had, she was accompanied by individuals competent enough to answer them all: Her tour guides were Wanna Yindeeyangyurn, who had spent much time and enthusiasm on organizing a wonderful conference, and MDC’s Secretary General Maarten Brouwer who, being of Dutch origin, is of course experienced when it comes to dealing with crowned heads.

As regards coins, the international collaboration works very well: In some practical questions, Wanna Yindeeyangyurn of the Royal Thai Mint was assisted by Ms Else Meijer of the Royal Dutch Mint. Photograph: UK.

There is the general tendency to underestimate how much work it is to organize a conference for nearly 350 delegates. And one would be surprised to learn how many things, minor and major alike, have to be taken care of in order to ensure an ideal working atmosphere. Therefore, Wanna Yindeeyangyurn gladly listened to one or two pieces of advice provided by Else Meijer who, in her capacity of Assistant to the MDC’s Secretary General of the MDC Maarten Brouwer, has extensive experience with MDC conferences.

Günther Waadt of the Bavarian State Mint at the lectern. Photograph: UK.

Over the course of two days, 35 presentations were held – simultaneously, for the most part – by speakers from 18 nations and five continents. The listeners came from 44 nations. While the plenary sessions mainly revolved around the future of cash and coins, the meetings of the committees addressed special topics, like how the market for bullion coins will probably develop, what new technologies in the production of coins can save the tax payer money, how the circulation coins’ counterfeit protection can be improved, and how the quality of coins can be secured. It goes without saying that aspects of environmentally-friendly technologies and personnel developments were also at the center of attention.

A visit to the Royal Thai Mint. Photograph: UK.

On Wednesday, it was not about theory but practical experience. The Royal Thai Mint invited for a visit of its production facilities. It was particularly impressive to see how the Thai orders were being produced, which are, by tradition, still hand-made. Putting an incredible degree of artisanship into the works of the finest quality, the large number of well-educated specialized craftsmen is very likely a sight that can only rarely be encountered in present-day mints.

The traditional highlight: The presentation of the MDC Awards during the concluding gala dinner. Here, Director General of the Treasury Department of the Thai Ministry of Finance, Chakkrit Parapuntakul, presents Dr Xianyao Li of the Royal Canadian Mint with the Award for most innovative silver commemorative coin. Photograph: UK.

The traditional highlight of the MDC constitutes a gala dinner during which the MDC Awards are being presented. The jury consists of the attending mint directors who are in the best position to appreciate how beautiful and innovative a coin really is. We will introduce all award winners in a separate article.

The handing over of the flag: Chakkrit Parapuntakul (l.) hands it on to the host of the upcoming MDC 2018, Hwadong Kim (r.), CEO of the Korean Minting Corporation KOMSCO. Photograph: UK.

As a ceremony celebrated since the Vienna MDC, the flag was then handed over. The host of the 2016 MDC, Chakkrit Parapuntakul – who will hold the office of the President of the MDC for the next two years – passed the flag with the logo pf the MDC onto his deputy, Hwadong Kim of Komsco who will host the 2018 MDC in Korea.

The new Secretary General of the MDC farewells Maarten Brouwer, the former Secretary General of the MDC. Photograph: UK.

Two important personnel matters can be reported from the latest Mint Directors Conference. Maarten Brouwer, the former Secretary General of the MDC, who has played a decisive role in the fate of the mints of the world, is resigning. He will be succeeded by Royal Australian Mint Chief Executive Ross MacDiarmid.

He used to be firmly established in the community of mints: the President of the MDC Technical Committee, Prabir Dee. Photograph: UK.

With no less than 14 years, Prabir Dee of the Royal Australian Mint held the office as Director of Operations of the Technical Committee for an even longer period of time than Maarten Brouwer! He will be succeeded in office by Dr Manfred Matzinger-Leopold of the Austrian Mint. At the same time, he was appointed Honorary President of the Technical Committee of the MDC.

If you are interested in gaining additional information on the MDC, please find here

Please find the website of the MDC 2016 in Bangkok here.