FOR the past 28 years, Stace de Beer has proudly overseen the 28 employees dedicated to producing the Krugerrand at South Africa's Mint. But for the first time in a quarter century, the ebullient Afrikaaner knows that the 1-ounce coin of pure South African gold is sold without controversy on the international market.
With the apartheid era consigned to the history books, the new South African government has commissioned a worldwide advertising campaign to boost the revenues the country earns from the formerly infamous coin.
Once the target of boycotts organized by the anti-apartheid activists who now run the country, the Krugerrand is today valued by the country's leaders as a great commercial asset.
At the Mint, Mr. De Beer shows visitors recently pressed Krugerrands, with the stony image of Paul Kruger, South Africa's first president, on one side and a lively springbok on the reverse. ''We're very proud of the quality of our work,'' he says. ''Our coins are at least as good as anyone else's in the world.''
Fifty-five million Krugerrands are currently in international circulation, and the South African Mint has the capacity to produce an additional 30,000 coins per day. Their price fluctuates in accordance with changes in the world's gold market. In addition, 300 high-quality ''proof'' Krugerrands are minted each day for the world's coin collectors, as the Mint gears up for the anticipated increase in demand.
The South African government is heavily promoting the Krugerrand as an investment. Chris Stals, the governor of South Africa's Reserve Bank, says the Krugerrand's new-found respectability is emblematic of the country's return to several international markets.
''As a symbol of stability in S.A., and as a symbol of the total South African economy and economic development, it is important that we should again be in a position to market more of our Krugerrands.''