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Where Does Silver Come From?

Silver News

A good portion of silver comes from Mexico and Peru.

In recent years, annual global silver mining production has supplied about 85% of current silver demand each year. The remaining silver comes from recycled silver. In years when the price of silver is low, a greater percentage of silver required to satisfy demand comes from mining production as the amount of recycled silver coming to market falls off. This dynamic puts silver mining companies in a predicament as demand for their product increases at a time when the price falls, making increasing output less profitable.

While the bulk of silver supply comes from mines, most of mined silver does not come from silver mines. About two thirds of mined silver each year comes from zinc, lead and copper mines. The mining of these base metal also yields substantial amounts of silver as a by-product. Primary silver mines produce about a third of annual silver mining production.

According to the Silver Institute, the world’s two largest silver mining countries, Mexico and Peru produce nearly 40% of the world’s silver, with Mexico accounting for about 22% of total global silver mining production. Mexico is home to many primary silver mines and some of the world’s largest silver mining companies, including the largest, Fresnillo.

Mexico’s silver and gold deposits were coveted by early and mid 16th century Spanish conquistadores, most famously, Hernan Cortes. Sr. Cortex conquered the indigenous Aztecs and colonized the geographic area of modern day Mexico and renamed it “New Spain”. The Spanish exploited the silver deposits of New Spain and shipped hundreds of tons of silver mined there back to Spain.

Peru was conquered by Spanish conquistador, Francisco Pizzaro in 1531, displacing the indigenous Incas and gaining control over their silver deposits. The silver mined in upper Peru provided even more silver for the Spanish in the late 16th century than Mexico.

Today, more than five hundred years after the Spanish conquests of Mexico and Peru, the mines of these countries produced about 180 and 130 million ounces of silver, respectively in 2015, making them the number one and two producers of silver in the world.

The third largest silver producing country in the world in 2015 was China with about 110 million ounces mined. Unlike Mexico and Peru that export the vast majority of their silver, China retains most of its domestic production for consumption and use in China. The Chinese solar industry is the largest in the world and requires large amounts of silver in the production of solar panels. China, along with Mexico and Peru account for about half of global silver mining production.

The top ten silver mining countries in the world account for about 85% of all silver production.

Set forth below are the top ten silver mining countries in the world, according to the Silver Institute.

top silver producing nations bgasc
The top three silver mining countries, Mexico, Peru and China produced about half the world’s silver in 2015.

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This article by BGASC is not, and should not be regarded as, investment advice or as a recommendation regarding any particular course of action.