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How much Silver is mined, and how much is left on Earth?

Published by Karl Martin Karus in category Articles on 08.11.2023
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Do you know how much silver is left on Earth in 2023? This article discusses annual silver mining, silver reserves, and the total amount of silver in the world!

Silver is a valuable metal that people have cherished for centuries. People use it for various applications, from jewelry to electronics to medical equipment.

Each year, miners mine and produce silver in significant quantities. This article will discuss the annual silver mining, reserves, and the global silver quantity.

How much Silver has been mined historically?

Throughout human history, it’s estimated that approximately 1.4 billion kg of silver has been mined. However, due to corrosion, just under half of that silver no longer exists as a metal.

As of 2018, over 1.6 million tonnes of silver had been physically mined. This amount would fit in a cube 55 meters on each side. Now, the total amount is approximately 1.74 million metric tons, equivalent to roughly 55,942,740,000 troy ounces of silver.

(Please note that these estimates are based on incomplete data and may need more accuracy.)

1 troy ounce = 31.1 grams

Since ancient times, civilizations have extracted silver from the earth, with the cumulative amount accelerating dramatically in the past century due to technological advancements.

To date, billions of ounces of silver have been extracted. The historical mines, now depleted, stand as monuments to the eras of relentless pursuit of the precious metal.

Yet, the legacy of mined silver continues to circulate, be it in artifacts, coinage, or recycled materials, contributing to the economy and culture.

How Much Silver is Still Out There to Mine?

Now, for the silver we haven’t dug up yet, it’s like a big question mark. Scientists have some guesses about how much is left, and they keep changing their minds as they find new spots with silver or develop better ways to get it out of the ground.

The future of silver mining is a big “what if” that depends on how much it costs to dig up, how much people want it, and whether we can get it without messing up the planet too much.

So, when we talk about silver, we’re not just talking about shiny coins and jewelry. It’s a big deal because it’s all about how we use our planet’s resources, push our technology to get more, and what all this means for tomorrow’s world.

Silver is a finite resource, meaning only a certain amount can be mined from the earth. According to a report by the US Geological Survey (USGS), the global reserves of silver were estimated to be around 570,000 metric tons in 2020. This refers to the amount still available to be mined.

(Please note that these estimates are based on incomplete data and may need more accuracy.)

How much silver is extracted each year?

According to a Silver Mine Production Worldwide report by Statista, the estimated global production of silver in 2022 was 26,000 metric tons. The report also states that the production of this precious metal has remained relatively stable over the years.

At this rate, how long do the unmined reserves last?

To estimate how long the unmined silver reserves might last, we must consider the amount of known reserves and the current production rate.

As of the latest available data, let’s use the figure of 570,000 metric tons for global silver reserves, as mentioned earlier. If we take the 2022 production rate of 26,000 metric tons per year, we can do a simple calculation:

570,000 metric tons (reserves) ÷ 26,000 metric tons (annual production) = approximately 21.92 years

This suggests that at the current production rate, and assuming no new silver is discovered, the known silver reserves could last for just under 22 years.

However, this is a simplified calculation, and the actual lifespan of silver reserves could be longer due to several factors.


(Mine production of silver worldwide from 2005 to 2022)

Breakdown of Mined Silver

  • 9% has been consumed or lost.
  • 73% went into jewelry, decorations, or religious items.
  • 9% was used for coins.
  • 81% is kept as investment bullion.

Major Silver Mines Around the World

Some of the world’s primary silver mines include:

  • Penasquito, Mexico
  • Polkowice-Sieroszowice, Poland
  • San Cristobal, Bolivia
  • Pitarrilla, Mexico
  • Lubin, Poland
  • Rudna, Poland
  • Gumuskoy, Turkey
  • Fresnillo, Mexico
  • Antamina, Peru
  • Cannington, Australia

Beyond Mining: Factors Influencing the Future of Silver

Silver, with its gleaming presence, is not just a precious metal but a vital component in various industries. However, the future availability of silver is a subject of much speculation and analysis.

While it’s tempting to predict the longevity of silver reserves by simply dividing the known reserves by the current extraction rate, such an approach doesn’t paint the whole picture.

Several dynamic factors come into play, each with the potential to significantly alter the landscape of silver mining and consumption. Let’s explore five key elements that could influence the future of silver reserves and their sustainability.

It’s important to note that the concept of “reserves” is dynamic, not static. Reserves can be re-evaluated based on economic viability, which is heavily influenced by the market price of silver. If prices rise, what was once considered too expensive to mine might be reclassified as reserves.

New Silver Discoveries

People are always searching for new silver on the earth. Discovering new silver can lead to a boost in supply and bring benefits like job creation to the local area. While such finds can help prevent silver shortages, it’s also crucial to consider the environmental impact and the cost of extracting the silver.

Technology in Mining

New tools and ways to mine silver are making a big difference. They help us get silver from deep in the ground without harming the earth too much. These tools are improving over time, which means we can get more silver and keep it safe for people to use in the future.

Recycling Silver

Recycling silver is a great way to use it again without digging for more. Silver doesn’t get worse when we recycle it, so we can keep using it repeatedly. This helps us not to explore too much and is better for the planet. As we care more about recycling, it will help us keep using silver for a long time.

Silver and Money

The price of silver can change how much we mine. When the price is high, companies want to unearth more, even if it’s harder to get. But if the price goes down, they might not mine as much. The price also helps people develop new ideas for mining and recycling silver.

Demand for Silver

People’s need for silver changes with inventions. We use silver in many items, from jewelry to gadgets and even healthcare. When a new product uses a lot of silver, we need more.

But if a new product doesn’t use silver, the demand goes down. For instance, we hardly use silver in cameras now, but it’s essential for making solar panels.

Also, when countries are growing fast, they might use more silver for building things and saving money. But if the economy worsens or we find cheaper materials than silver, people might not want as much. These ups and downs in what people wish to do can affect how much they dig for silver and how long their silver will last.

Conclusion

In conclusion, while a simple division of reserves by annual production rate gives a rough estimate of 22 years for the remaining silver reserves, the actual duration could be significantly different due to the abovementioned factors. It is important to note that the future of silver reserves depends not solely on the current production rate.

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Gold price (XAU-SEK)
25870,30 SEK/oz
  
+ 385,30 SEK
Silver price (XAG-SEK)
336,83 SEK/oz
  
+ 19,50 SEK

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