It wasn’t long ago that the amount of silver existing above ground far exceeded that of gold. However, the last half century has seen silver consumption rise exponentially as the white metal has been utilized in both industry and technology. Conversely, nearly all the gold that has ever left the ground is still in existence. Industrial and technological uses for gold are reasonably rare when compared with silver, and instead it is largely hoarded in above-ground stores. As a result, experts estimate that the present above-ground gold supply exceeds that of silver by approximately four times.
Scarcity is one of the characteristics that impart value to precious metals in general, and silver grows scarcer by the hour. In 2010 industrial production of silver was up 18% due to rising demand from the technology sector. Silver’s value is increasing due to other market segments as well. While it is already being used in bandages, clothing, and medical devices, because of silver’s antibiotic properties, there is increasing demand for the metal in the health care industry as well.
Consumption of silver in industry has seen a surge in recent years. In 1999 only 100 million ounces of silver went into electronics industry while in 2011, as much as 250 million ounces of the metal may be consumed. It has become increasingly difficult to extract silver from mines considering the cost and time involved when compared to other, more lucrative metals. New mines identified in USA and Canada may take more than 10 years before a single ounce of the metal can be mined out, and the top eight silver producing states in US have all achieved peak production despite the newer technologies. According to US Geological Service, ore grades have collapsed 95% in the past 75 years.