Consumption of silver
Silver is one of the world’s most valued metals and included within the so called transition metals group. Within living memory, this precious metal always has been used for coins, jewellery and valuable utensils, known as silverware.
In modern times, it also developed an important role in industrial usage. Almost half of all silver worldwide is used for such purposes. This is primarily due to its extremely high electric and thermal conductivity. In fact, silver has the highest conductivity of electricity and heat of all elements and metals, respectively. Thus, industrial silver usage is mostly for conductors and catalyses. Another sector which is highly dependent on silver is the photographic industry. Silver is also an important factor within the finance and investment sector. Among countries around the world, the United States is the top consumer of silver.
The United States consumes around one fifth of global silver. China, Japan and India are following, while Germany and Italy are the top consumers from Europe. The latest estimates show that the United States uses between six and eight thousand metric tons annually.
With around one thousand metric tons from mines, the United States is also among the top 10 primary silver producers worldwide. Mexico is by far the leading silver producer, extracting more than four thousand metric tons from its silver mines. Silver is in most cases obtained as a by-product from zinc, copper and gold mines and refineries. The largest primary silver mines are Cannington in Australia and Fresnillo in Mexico.