via Chicago Sun Times

WASHINGTON — Given rising metal prices, the pennies and nickels in your pocket are worth more melted down than their face value — and that has the government worried.

U.S. Mint officials said Wednesday they were putting into place rules prohibiting the melting down of 1-cent and 5-cent coins, with a penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 for people convicted of violating the rule.

Because of the prevailing prices of metals, the cost of producing pennies and nickels exceeds the coins’ face value.

A nickel is 25 percent nickel and 75 percent copper. The metal in one coin costs 6.99 cents for each 5-cent coin.

Modern pennies have 2.5 percent copper content with zinc making up the rest of the coin. The current copper and zinc in a penny are worth 1.12 cents.

Looks like I am going to have to return that smelter I got for Christmas from my mother in law.