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The U.S. Mint announced on Tuesday it will begin producing a new 24-karat gold bullion coin early next year, hoping to capitalize on growing international demand for purer gold coins.

The Mint already produces the 22-karat American Eagle gold bullion coin, and Mint officials estimate the potential global market for 24-karat gold coins at $2.4 billion annually.

This will mark the first time the U.S. Mint has produced a 24-karat gold coin, a designation that means it contains 99.99 percent gold. The current 22-karat gold coin, on the market since 1986, contains 91.67 percent gold with the rest of the coin made of other alloys.

Global investors in recent years have been turning increasingly to the purer gold coin, although the American Eagle is still the best-selling gold coin in North America.

The American Eagle coins have face values of $50, $25, $10 and $5 but they sell for much more than that with the price set by the market price of gold. The $50 American Eagle was selling for around $445 on Monday.

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