Silver is a metal with unique properties including its strength, malleability and ductility. It is also characterized with electrical and thermal conductivity, sensitivity to and high reflectance of light and the ability to endure extreme temperature ranges.

Applications

The versatility of silver leads to few substitute metals in most of its applications, particularly in high-technology uses in which reliability, precision and safety are critical.

Technology

Silver is used in all our lives daily, from our cell phones to our personal computers.

You can find Silver in automotive batteries, satellites, high tech weaponry and digital technology, among others.

Photovoltaics

Demand for silver consumed by the photovoltaic industry has been driven by a tremendous increase in the uptake of renewable energy. Silver is used in the solar panels employed for photovoltaic power generation.

Biocidal

Silver is used in Biocidal applications; these are already in use across a diverse array of products from medical instruments to glass and playground equipment. Antimicrobials containing silver are used in textiles for odor, discoloration prevention, hygienic plastic, and other applications.

You can find silver in

Automotive industry
Chemical catalyst
Clothing
Coinage
Digital technology
Ink
Insulation & energy reduction
Jewelry & silverware
Pharmaceuticals
Photography
Reflective glass
Silver oxide batteries
Solar energy
Water treatment
X-rays
 

Supply & Demand

Supply (Moz) 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Mine Production 791.7 823.7 868.6 890.8 885.8
Net Government Sales 7.4 7.9 - - -
Scrap 253.8 191.0 165.3 141.1 139.7
Net Hedging Supply -47.1 -34.8 16.8 7.8 -18.4
Total Supply 1,005.8 987.8 1,050.7 1,039.7 1,007.1
Demand (Moz)          
Jewelry 187.4 221.8 227.9 228.3 207.0
Coins & Bars 159.2 240.6 234.0 290.7 206.8
Silverware 43.7 58.8 60.7 62.9 52.1
(+) Industrial Fabrication 600.0 604.5 595.7 569.6 561.9
Of which Electrical & Electronics 266.7 266.0 263.4 245.9 233.6
Of which Brazing Alloys & Solders 61.1 63.7 66.7 61.5 55.4
Of which Photography 54.2 50.5 48.5 46.6 45.2
Of which Photovoltaic 58.2 55.9 51.8 57.2 76.6
Of which Ethylene Oxide 4.7 7.7 5.0 10.2 10.2
Of which Other Industrial 155.0 160.8 160.5 148.4 141.0
Physical Demand 990.2 1,125.8 1,118.3 1,151.5 1,027.8
Physical Surplus/Deficit 15.6 -137.9 -67.6 -111.8 -20.7
ETF Inventory Build 55.3 2.5 1.5 -17.7 47.0
Exchange Inventory Build 62.2 8.8 -5.3 12.6 79.8
Net balance -101.9 -149.2 -63.8 -106.7 -147.5

 

Silver Demand (Moz)


Physical silver demand declined 11% to 1,027.8 Moz, impacted mainly by weaker jewelry, silverware, and retail investment.


Jewelry demand came under pressure from rising prices, but despite this it remained above 200 Moz for the fourth successive year.


Coins & medals fabrication declined 9% in 2016 following the all-time high achieved in 2015, to bring total coins and medals fabrication to 123.2 Moz.


Global silverware retreated for the first time in four years, declining 17% to 52.1 Moz, largely due to higher silver prices and weaker domestic currencies in price-sensitive markets.

 

2016 Silver Demand (Moz)

 

Industrial Fabrication Applications (562 Moz)
Silver is the pre-eminent electrical and thermal conductor of all metals, which makes it essential in many electrical applications.

 

Jewelry (207 Moz)
Pure silver does not tarnish easily but to make it durable for jewelry it is often alloyed with small amounts of copper. It is also widely used with base metals in gold alloys.

 

Coins and Bars (207 Moz)
Historically, silver was more widely used in coinage than gold, being in greater supply and of less value, thus being practical for everyday payments.

 

Silverware (52 Moz)
Sterling silver has been the standard of silverware since the 14th century, particularly in the manufacture of "hollow-ware" and "flatware".

 

1.0 Billion
Ounces Total Demand
Largely
Supported by
886 Moz
Total Mine Production

Silver Supply (Moz)

 

Mine Supply by Region (Moz)

 
A large portion of the total silver supply is comprised of the silver mining industry. Mine supply totaled 886 Moz in 2016, largely in line with the prior year.

Investment

As a precious metal, silver has become an investment of choice for those who recognize its traditional role as a safe haven asset.


Coins and medals – Total coin and medals fabrication amounted 123.2 Moz in 2016, the second highest level this century, with demand up year-on-year in the first half of 2016.

Physical bar investment – After reaching a record 155.2 Moz in 2015, global physical bar investment fell 46% in 2016, mainly due to lower demand from India and retail investors taking profits at higher silver prices.


Silver exchange traded products (ETPs) – ETPs increased 8%, or 47.0 Moz, bringing total holdings of ETPs to 664.8 Moz. ETPs peaked in late October 2016 at 688.6, reaching an all-time high.

Identifiable Investment, which includes physical bar investment, coins and medals and changes to ETP holdings, retreated 7%, to 253.8 Moz, from the impressive level achieved in 2015. This level of investment was still 23% higher than the average over the decade preceding 2015.

Source: The Silver Institute World Silver Survey 2017