OTTAWA - The great Canadian gold heist has turned out to be something much more mundane.

Millions of dollars in supposedly lost gold at the Royal Canadian Mint has been accounted for - most of it miscounted, some sold off cheaply, and a lot swept into dust pans. Three independent security and accounting reviews conclude that most of $15.3 million worth of the precious metal in question wasn't lost at all, and there's no evidence any of it was stolen.

The reviews found that $8 million was simply miscounted, while more than $3 million was sold off as slag - at a fraction of its worth.

Another $1.6 million worth was found in buildings and machinery in the mint.

Much of the rest was used up in the minting process, including as gold dust.

There was nothing to indicate the Mint had been sloppy or careless with the precious metal.

"It is important to note that the Mint's precious metal refining process has the same characteristic as any other refinery process; losses are inevitable and unavoidable," concludes a review by IBI Group, which specializes in process engineering.

Indeed, the review says the technical expertise at the Mint exceeds the industry standard.

There had been speculation the Mint had been the target of a heist, but last month the Mounties said there would be no criminal investigation, citing a lack of evidence.

The reviews were launched after an external audit in June ruled out sloppy bookkeeping as the reason why the Mint had 17,500 troy ounces of gold on its records that it couldn't find in its inventory.

The Banks Group conducted a comprehensive review of the Mint's physical security while Microsoft Services reviewed the Corporation's computer records and security protocol.

"They concluded that the unreconciled difference was not the result of criminal activities, either by theft, fraud or reasons relating to data manipulation of information technology systems," the Mint said in a statement Monday.

The Banks Group also found "no evidence of unauthorized removal of precious metals from the Mint."

The Mint says it has learned some "valuable lessons" from the reviews, and will change the way it keeps track of its gold by counting its precious metal stock every three months instead of twice a year.

Among other measures, the Mint will now refine all gold slag by-products internally and more swiftly to avoid large accumulations of slag.

It has also hired a new metal comptroller and additional material management staff, and implemented more robust accounting measures.

"The Mint's board of directors accepts the conclusions of these reviews and commends management for leading a detailed and conclusive examination," said board chairman James Love.

"The additional checks and balances now put in place will allow the Mint to continue to lead the minting industry as well as thrive in the months and years ahead."