Learn interesting geological facts about silver - where to find it, top producers, and why to invest
|Physical Properties of Silver
|Silver, sometimes mixed with gold, mercury, arsenic, and antimony
|Silver-white on untarnished surfaces. Tarnishes dark yellow to black.
|Silver-white to light gray. Streak shiny.
|2.5 to 3
|Jewelry, solar/nuclear energy, cutlery, photography, antibiotics, electronics, investment
On the periodic table, Ag stands for silver. This symbol comes from the Latin word argentum, which correlates to the metal’s shiny or white appearance. Silver is a transition metal, meaning it shows a high tendency for forming compounds.
There are four forms of silver found in nature:
- Trace metal
The most abundant form of silver on Earth today is as a trace metal in conjunction with other metal ores.
Continue reading to learn geological facts about this precious metal and why you should consider investing.
Modern Uses of Silver
Silver is highly prized due to the fact that is a rare precious metal with high economic value. Silver is one of the seven metals of antiquity that has been valued since ancient civilizations. Today, silver is valued as an investment medium, as well as for many commercial and industrial uses like for film development in photography, coatings for mirrors, jewelry, electrical equipment, medical devices, and dental equipment.
Where to Find Silver Deposits
The main sources of silver are mined as an ore of copper, copper-nickel, lead, and lead-zinc. In nature, silver is more likely to be found as a compound. In 2014, there was estimated to be 26,800 metric tons of fine silver available in the world.
A majority of the world’s silver mines are located in Peru, Bolivia, Mexico, China, Australia, Chile, Poland, and Serbia. The pure form of silver can be found in the Earth’s crust, with the occurrence only being 0.08 parts per million. The top producing mines in order of production are Mexico (18.7%), China (15.1%), and Peru (14.1%). These mines are able to produce commercial fine-grade silver, which means that the silver is 99.9% pure.
How Silver is Mined
Since silver is found mostly as a compound, its primary method of production is as a secondary by-product of electrolytic refinement. The method utilized is called the Parkes process, where the silver is removed from lead and some other types of metal through a liquid-to-liquid extraction procedure.
Silver can also be extracted from copper and zinc through a similar process in which the silver is purified by a nitrate solution.
Another source of silver is refined from gold mines. Electrum is a type of rock in which the gold and silver content equal approximately 20% of the total material. Trace amounts of silver can be extracted from this gold ore product.
How Silver is Formed
Within the Earth, silver is formed from sulfur compounds. In the Earth’s crust, the temperature is very hot (approximately 200 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on how close you are to the planet’s mantle). The salt water that exists within the crust concentrates into a brine solution where silver remains dissolved. As the brine solution moves out of the seabed and into the cold seawater, silver will fall out of the solution as a mineral on the seafloor.
A rock containing silver will have a dark, almost sooty appearance or dark crystals within the rock. There are several different types of silver ore in the world depending on the geography. Some have gray spider-like veins running through the rocks, while others can be more gray or black in color. Silver can also be found mixed with quartz and ruby crystal formations. Silver and gold are often found together since they exist in the same base ore material.
Brief History of Silver Mining and Applications
Archeologists believe that silver, along with gold and copper, was used as one of the first forms of money in ancient civilizations. Greek and Roman civilizations primarily used silver as a form of currency. With the fall of the Roman civilization, the use of silver coins did not become popular again until the 6th century CE.
Silver mining is thought to have actually begun in India, China, and Japan. Ancient Phoenicians obtained boatloads of silver from modern day Spain around 1200 to 800 BCE. During the 7th century BCE, the ancient Greeks extracted their silver from galena, a natural form of lead sulfide. Historians believe they were mining silver at a rate of 30 metric tons per year. The ancient Romans were even more efficient at mining silver at a rate of 200 metric tons per year.
During the Middle Ages, there were numerous silver mines across central Europe, with most of the mines becoming exhausted by the Industrial Revolution. The world’s production rate of silver at that time was 50 metric tons per year.
Around the 18th century, silver was primarily produced in Central and South America. But by the 19th century, production became more based in Canada, Mexico, and Nevada. During the 1970s, Poland started producing large quantities of silver with the discovery of numerous copper deposits.
Today, Mexico, Peru, and China are the top producers of silver. Silver production is fairly balanced throughout the rest of the world with approximately one fifth of modern production coming from recycling methods.
Throughout history, silver has even been assigned certain mystical properties. Silver was viewed as protection against werewolves, witches, and other monsters. It is no wonder that silver is so highly prized around the world.
As you can see, silver has been valued throughout history. Consider adding this precious metal to your investment strategy today to secure your financial future. Browse our website to buy silver bullion.