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Amount of silver in the world

Silver is much more commonly found on Earth than gold, platinum or palladium, which is one of the reasons its price is lower than these precious metals. It is estimated that 1.74 million metric tons of silver has been discovered to date, but the amount of silver in the world is certainly far higher, with reserves still waiting to be discovered and mined.

Silver has a huge number of industrial, commercial and medical uses. The lower price, and reduced scarcity, mean that the reclamation rate of silver is less than that of other precious metals; unlike gold – the majority of which is constantly recycled – large quantities of silver are lost through use, or dumped into landfill.

Gold’s higher value makes it more suited to larger size investments – such as those made by governments, financial institutions and wealthy investors. Silver however is much more flexible thanks to the much lower price.

Silver mining is more often undertaken as a secondary yield as part of other mining operations, rather than the primary goal. Silver has been mined for thousands of years and, as such, huge amounts of this precious metal are now above ground.

It is estimated that, by 2018, over 1.6 million tonnes of silver had been physically mined throughout history. All this metal would fit in a cube 55 meters on each side. Now at 1.74 million metric tons, that would be equivalent to roughly 55,942,740,000 troy ounces of silver.

All the silver ever mined, visualised as a cube

Figures from asset specialists CPM estimate that 49.9% of this silver has been either consumed by industry, or lost. 45.73% has been used for jewellery, decoration or religious purposes. Only 2.9% has been used for silver coins and just 1.81% is stored as investment silver bullion.

In addition to the silver already mined, it is believed there is still a vast 530,000 million tonnes remaining below ground. How much of this could be viably and cost-effectively be mined however is unclear and could have large implications for silver supply in the years ahead.


Remaining reserves of silver

The United States Geological Survey estimates there is still a total of 530,000 million tonnes of silver below ground ready to be mined. Peru has the largest silver reserves in the world, at 93,000 million tonnes, with Australia and Poland close behind.

Chart showing the top 10 nations by silver reserves


Annual silver production

Annual global silver production in 2018 was 27,000 tonnes. This was 200 tonnes more than in 2017 according to figures from Statista.

Chart showing the top 10 silver producing countries in 2017
Today the largest silver mines are in Mexico and Poland, whilst Mexico, followed by Peru, are the largest national producers, as seen in the chart above.

The world’s largest silver mines:

  • 1) Penasquito, Mexico - open
  • 2) Polkowice-Sieroszowice, Poland - underground
  • 3) San Cristobal, Bolivia - open
  • 4) Pitarrilla, Mexico - open
  • 5) Lubin, Poland - underground
  • 6) Rudna, Poland - underground
  • 7) Gumuskoy, Turkey - open
  • 8) Fresnillo, Mexico - underground
  • 9) Antamina, Peru - open
  • 10) Cannington, Australia - underground
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