As One of the Major Precious Metals, How Much Is Silver Worth?
Silver is fairly scarce, but it is still the most plentiful and least expensive of all precious metals. Geologists estimate silver will only last another twenty years based on the current demand. Silver is a white lustrous metal valued for its decorative beauty and electrical conductivity. It is mined through both open pits and underground. Silver mining has fined tuned its silver processing to continually make it environmentally friendly and cost effective
There are three primary sources of silver. Silver that is a by-product of mining other precious metals, silver recycled, and silver mining.
Native silver is rarely found in its pure form. The largest native silver nugget was found in Mexico, and it weighed 2, 750 pounds troy.
Silver is found in mineral ores such as argentite, cerargyrite, stephanite, and chlorargyrite (horn silver). When silver is mined, the mining process searches for and extracts silver ore.
There are approximately 300 open pit and underground silver mines in the world today. Mining for silver ore through an open pit process involves heavy machinery to find silver ore deposits near the Earth’s surface.
In underground mining, deep shafts tunnel into the ground and follow silver deposits to extract the silver laden ore. These mines have large passages, and the passages follow veins of ore. The miners drill rocks and use explosives to blast the silver into smaller pieces. Once the blasting is complete, the waste rock and ore are collected and transported to the surface of the ground via mine cars for silver processing. Down in the tunnels while mining silver, even though there is ventilation, the temperature of the rocks can be 113F degrees.
Silver Processing Methods
There are different methods used to extract silver from ores. In the 16th century, a mercury amalgamation process extracted silver, but this process is no longer used because it is a hazard to the environment.
The Patio Process
The silver process was developed in the 16th century by a Spanish merchant, Bartolome de Media. He noticed a decline in silver production, which caused the silver availability to decline. There were many silver mines, but the production and extraction costs were too high to make those mines worthwhile.
Bartolome learned that silver could be extracted from mined ores using mercury and a salt-water brine. With this knowledge, he traveled to Mexico and developed a refining technique known as the patio process.
It takes finely crushed silver ore, which is mixed with salt, water, copper sulfate, and mercury. This mixture is spread in a one to two foot layer in an outdoor patio. After weeks of mixing and sun exposure, the silver called native silver in the ore binds with the mercury to form an amalgam. An amalgam is an alloy of mercury with another metal, in this case, silver. After that, pure silver could be extracted more easily than traditional methods.
The Sodium Cyanide Process
If an ore contains gold and silver, the ore is treated with sodium cyanide solution to resolve the precious metals. The Spanish miner’s percolated acid solutions through large heaps of copper oxide ore. The process developed into its present form during the late nineteenth century.
Silver ore is crushed into one to one and a half inch diameter pieces, which makes the silver porous. Then powdered zinc is added to the solution containing the crushed ore, and the precious metals form a sludge, which is collected and further processed to separate the gold and copper from the silver.
Lead ore that contains silver uses a cupellation process to extract silver using huge furnaces, a process developed by the Chaldeans in early 2,500 BC. Today, the mining industry uses this process crushing ore, placing it on a porous bed of bond ash, and heating it until the silver melts. All impurities like lead are absorbed.
Froth Flotation Process and Air Bubbles
In the 20th century, the froth flotation process was developed. Air bubbles are blown through the frothy mixture to carry the silver to the top of the bath where the froth is. The silver laten froth is skimmed from the bath and then smelted.
Smelting involves heating a substance into a very high temperature. Smelting converts ore to its purest form.
Electrolytic Refining Process
Electrolytic refining (copper) is used when silver-copper concentrate is placed in an electrolytic cell within an electrolyte solution. Electricity is passed through the solution, and the results is the copper and silver separating out to opposite ends of the cell. This process is repeated until only silver remains.
Silver Consumption and the Demand for Silver
Silver is produced throughout the world. Mexico, Peru, the United States, Canada, Australia, and Chile produce the largest amounts of the world’s silver. Mexico is the world’s largest silver producer, producing 5,600 metric tones in 2021.
In Baden-Württemberg , Germany silver is found in a native form, but rarely as nuggets in placer deposits and veins. Silver is commonly combined with sulfur, arsenic, antimony, or chlorine, and in various ores, such as argentite, chlorargyrite, and galena (a lead ore often containing significant amounts of silver). As silver is often found in conjunction with these or alloyed with other metals, such as gold, it usually must be further extracted through amalgamation or electrolysis.
India is the largest consumer of the silver produced. The country has consumed 12 percent of all the silver mined.
India is the third largest fabricator of silver jewelry in the world. They import silver at a record high due to the lift of investment demand. The manufacturing of electronics, solar panels and similar products has government incentives, and the industries that make these products use silver as part of their process. The auto industry also uses high amounts of silver.
In 2022, India’s silver imports will triple. It could out perform gold in the coming years. The demand in India will help support the rise in global prices. In the first quarter of 2022, silver imports leaped to 5,100 tonnes from 110 tonnes during the same period a year before. It’s estimated that silver imports will soar to 8,200 tonnes by the end of 2022.
A tonne is a metric ton.
Use of Silver
How much silver will be produced in the future depends on many factors, including the rate of production of other metals and future uses of silver. Industrial demand for silver appears steady, and the industrial demand is increasing. Because silver naturally occurs with other metals, future production is linked to the production of copper, lead, gold, and zinc. Silver will likely continue to be used for special industrial applications.
Silver will continue to be useful as part of an investment strategy, because silver has more industrial demand. For long-term investments, silver can be leveraged as a hedge against inflation.
Because of the physical characteristics silver has, it is useful in various industries.
Solar Panel Industry
It is estimated that each gigawatt (GW) of installed solar power requires 30 metric tons of silver. 12 Given its high electrical and thermal conductivity, a silver paste is used in roughly 85% of photovoltaic cells. In 2020, new solar installations amounted to 138 GW, with solar representing approximately 9% of silver’s total demand. However, analysts estimate 2023 could witness 236 GW of new solar capacity, representing 11% of total.
The photography industry is the biggest user of silver compounds. Silver forms the most light-sensitive salts, or halides, which are essential to developing high-quality photography. Photography uses silver halides (such as silver chloride, bromide or iodide) as the materials exposed to light. The silver halide layer absorbs light, and electrons within the layer attach to the halide crystals, creating what are known as sensitivity specks.
Silver bromide is sensitive to light. When silver bromide is suspended in gelatin, and the silver bromide grains create a photographic emulsion. One exposed to light, silver bromide decomposes, and preserves a photographic image.
Italy was regarded as the world’s largest manufacturer and exporter of crafted fine jewelry for many years. According to Global News Wire, the global jewelry market was USD 330.00 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach USD 266.53 billion by 2027.
More people tend to buy luxurious products, like designer handbags, luxury watches, and gold and silver jewelry. The current consumption of silver for silver jewelry was 20 percent in 2018 and expected to raise to 25 percent by mid-2020s.
The largest manufacturing countries producing silver jewelry are the United States, India, Europe, and East Asian.
Buying, Selling, and Pawning Silver
You may have silver to sell or pawn or be looking to buy silver. Turn to a pawn shop for a great deal, and if you have questions about the silver you want to buy or sell. Pawn shops have a large inventory of silver coins, precious metals, silver bullion, silver bars, sterling silver, gold bullion bars, gold and silver jewelry, and they will accept silver scrap to melt down and sell to a refinery.
The silver market ebbs and flows depending on economic factors, so know the spot price of silver before you go into a pawn shop with any precious metal to sell, buy, or pawn.
Lincoln Pawn located in Anaheim, CA is a trusted pawn shop that buys, sells and pawns silver and gold, silver scrap, bullion bars, silver coins, silver jewelry, and other precious metals. They have experts who can test your precious metals before they offer you a fair deal based on current silver prices in the silver market. Since the silver value fluctuates, they will give you a quote for the current price and answer any questions you may have.
Silver is their specialty at Lincoln Pawn Shop. With over 25 years combined experience, the team of professional appraisers is ready to offer you the most money for your silver. They accept the following items:
- Silver bars
- Silver coins
- Silver necklaces
- Silver rings
- Silver watches
- Silver earrings
They will help you get quick cash for $25-$25,000. Sell your goods or borrow against them at 3% per month or less. You can borrow what you need and pay back to redeem your item. Or sell your item outright. Just take in a valid ID.
Lincoln Pawn also accepts all luxury items like Rolex, gold jewelry, gold bullion, silver coins, and luxury handbags. They have a large inventory of silver and gold jewelry for sale, and have affordable silver prices based on silver spot prices. If you are looking for physical silver to add to your investment portfolio, Lincoln Pawn is the place to shop.