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US Penny to Be Kept as Canada Bids Coin Farewell

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Loafer wearers, rejoice.

Even though Canada will be saying goodbye to the 1-cent coin in the fall, it seems the U.S. penny is here to stay -- for now.

In 2008, then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson suggested eliminating the coin, but the idea did not catch on. In a proposed 2013 budget for the Treasury Department,  a clause proposes legislation that would give the secretary of the Treasury “flexibility to change the composition of coins to more cost-effective materials.”

The move would save the department millions. According to the Treasury Department, the U.S. coin costs 2.4 cents to mint because of rising zinc costs. Last year, the U.S. Mint made 4.9 billion pennies, running up production costs of $118 million.

A change in law would mean a payday for so-called “penny hoarders,” people who have been accumulating the coins -- which are 95 percent copper -- in hope of being allowed to melt them down for the much-sought-after metal.

But Americans for Common Cents is a fierce defender of the U.S. penny. The group is funded by the mining company that sells zinc to the mint.

Mark Weller, the organization’s executive director, said the penny has enjoyed high public support. He also said the mint was looking at making pennies more efficiently.

On Thursday, Canadian Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty announced that Canada would stop minting pennies, since each one cost Canadian taxpayers 1.5 cents to make.

“They take up far too much time for small businesses trying to grow and create jobs,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio