The Secret Side of Silver

The Secret Side of Silver Written by Luke Burgess for Energy and Capital

Silver is usually reserved for second place. But of the four precious metals — gold, silver, platinum, and palladium — silver is actually the least precious.

Silver is the most common of the four precious metals for starters. Some estimates put silver at over 60 times more abundant than gold in the Earth’s crust. And silver’s chemical and physical properties are simply not as special as gold, platinum, or palladium. Nevertheless, silver plays an extremely important role in our modern lives.

Of course, gold is extremely important to global finance and wealth preservation. Over 90% of total gold demand comes from the jewelry industry or from investors (either from retail consumers, institutional investors, or central banks).

And platinum and palladium serve as vital environmental material mostly used by the auto industry. Over 80% of platinum and palladium demand comes from catalytic converter manufacturing.

Silver, on the other hand, doesn’t have such a specific market. Instead, it’s critical in a million different applications.

Most people think silver is only a jewelry metal. But according to the World Silver Institute, 56% of silver demand comes from industrial fabrication, which includes everything from electrical, electronics, brazing alloys, solders, photovoltaic, and other industrial applications.

Whether you know it or not, you rely on silver every day. The metal is all around you right now. It’s in your cellphones, laptops, televisions, tablets, printers, speakers, scanners, keyboards… The list goes on and on.

And it’s a commodity that the world constantly devours in massive amounts. Every day, the world consumes nearly 3 million ounces of silver. Melted down, that would produce a single 7-foot cube weighing over 200,000 pounds!

And unlike gold, silver often becomes irretrievably lost. What I mean is that gold is recycled all the time. Studies suggest that 95%–98% of all gold ever mined is still actively being used in some capacity today. Historically valuable with near-religious appeal, gold is simply too precious to throw away. But silver is different.

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