Global silver reserves
Silver is a soft, white lustrous metal and its precious metal status has established a growing silver market. In 2016, the average price of silver was around 17.1 U.S. dollars per ounce. As a precious metal, silver is often used in the industry for currency as coins, ornaments, jewelry, and silverware. It has the highest electrical and thermal conductivity of any metal, which makes it extremely useful for certain industrial applications, such as electrical contacts and conductors as well as a catalyst in chemical reactions. Silver has also been used for other applications, such as in cell phones and solar panels.
In 2015, the mining industry produced some estimated 27,300 metric tons of silver. Only about 20% of silver is from primary silver production, mostly, it is collected as a by-product through the mining of other metals like copper, lead, zinc, and gold. Silver experienced the highest production in Mexico, China, and Peru in 2016. Based on 2016 data, Peru, Australia, and Poland have the largest silver reserves with 120, 89, and 85 thousand metric tons, respectively. Four of the 25 largest silver mining companies are located in Mexico. It is also home to large silver belts such as Sierra Madre belt located within the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range. Peru is home to some of the top silver production companies, such as Fresnillo Plc. In Australia, much of its silver arises from galena, a silver-bearing lead mineral, hence, Cannington Mine, the largest silver and lead mine in the world in Queensland.