The order for new coins has been trebled this year. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority said yesterday it had placed an order for 900 million coins - up from the usual 300 million - while maintaining that the worst of the coin shortage was over. 'The situation is improving,' said spokesman Albert Chan Yu-chung. He said the Royal Canadian Mint had been commissioned in addition to the usual coin supplier, the Royal Mint in Britain. Acting chief executive David Carse said: 'We are minting coins like nobody's business.' A proposal to treat shiny new coins to make them appear older in a bid to discourage collectors had been dropped, Mr Chan said. It would require too much effort and bright 1997 coins had only been in demand because they marked the handover, he said. About 800 million pieces with the queen's head out of three billion coins in circulation were estimated to have been kept by collectors in the middle of last year, leading to the shortage.