Your basket will timeout in Checkout
Time remaining:

LAWRIE WILLIAMS: Top World Silver Producers – Countries, Companies and Mines

London’s precious metals consultancy Thomson Reuters GFMS, in conjunction with Washington DC based The Silver Institute has released the 2016 edition of its annual World Silver Survey and it is perhaps less negative on the ‘second’ precious metal than hitherto suggesting that silver fundamentals are improving.  Indeed it comments that in 2015, the silver market saw record demand, with the jewelry, coin and bar, and photovoltaic sectors posting new highs, helping to boost total silver demand to 1.17 billion ounces.  Meanwhile overall silver supply to the market was lower, led by a continued weakness in silver scrap sales, although new mined production showed an increase of around 2%.  Last year’s supply and demand scenario, the consultancy reports,  led to the third successive annual silver market deficit, reaching 129.8 million ounces over the year, more than 60% larger than in 2014 and the third largest on record.

As usual the report itself, and its appendices, are packed with charts and data looking at most aspects of silver supply and demand, and the global market for the metal.  Always of particular interest to analysts are the listings of the Top 20 silver producing nations and of the companies and mines which produce this metal.  For the most part silver supply in both cases is a byproduct from base metals and gold mining activities, and even the primary silver producers will be mining associated gold and base metals helping contribute substantially to their revenues and profits.

Top 20 Silver producing nations 2015 – million ounces

Rank

Country

Prodn. 2014

Prodn. 2015

1

Mexico

186.3

189.5

2

Peru

122.9

135.9

3

China

112.5

109.1

4

Russia

46.1

50.5

5

Australia

53.9

50.3

6

Chile

50.6

48.4

7

Bolivia

43.2

42.0

8

Poland

40.7

41.5

9

USA

37.9

35.4

10

Argentina

29.1

34.7

11

Guatemala

27.6

27.7

12

Kazakhstan

19.0

17.3

13

Sweden

12.7

15.9

14

Canada

15.9

12.2

15

India

8.4

12.0

16

Indonesia

7.7

9.8

17

Morocco

8.8

9.5

18

Turkey

6.6

6.5

19

Dominican Republic

4.5

4.1

20

Armenia

3.7

3.7

 

 

Rest of World

30.2

30.6

 

 

World Total

868.3

886.7

Source: GFMS, Thomson Reuters

In the companies table Fresnillo moved to world No. 1 in 2013 as Poland’s KGHM Polska Miedsz fell back to second and BHP Billiton fell back to 11th place following the spin-off during the year of South 32 which was a new entry in 15th place as operator of what GFMS reckons to be the world’s second largest primary silver mine in Cannington in Australia.  BHP and South 32 combined production of 33.1 tonnes would have put it in 5th place. 

Goldcorp sits in 3rd place largely through its Penasquito mine in Mexico where guided annual silver production in 2016 of between 22-24 million ounces would perhaps make it the world’s largest silver mine – but as it is also Goldcorp’s largest gold mine in production terms in 2015 it classifies its silver output as a byproduct!  See listing of the world’s top primary silver mines later.

Top 20 Silver Mining Companies 2015 – million ounces

Rank

Company

Prodn. 2014

Prodn. 2015

1

Fresnillo*

40.4

43.0

2

KGHM

40.4

41.6

3

Goldcorp

36.8

40.4

4

Glencore/ Xstrata

35.5

36.6

5

Polymetal*

28.7

32.1

6

Pan American*

26.1

26.1

7

Volcan

22.5

24.8

8

Buenaventura

19.7

22.3

9

Codelco

 20.4

21.3 

10

Tahoe *

 20.3

20.4 

11

BHP Billiton

34.0

19.2

12

Coeur*

17.2

15.9

13

Sumitomo

 14.2

15.8 

14

Hochschild*

16.2

14.8

15

South 32

 -

13.9 

16

Boliden

 10.4

13.5 

17

Southern Copper

13.0

13.3

18

Hindustan Zinc

 8.4

12.0 

19

Hecla*

11.3

11.6

20

Penoles

14.1

11.5

Source: GFMS, Thomson Reuters, Company reports, LawrieOnGold

*Companies for which mining of silver is their primary business

Top 15 primary silver mines 2015 – million ounces

Rank

Mine Name

Country

Company

2014

2015

1

Dukat

Russia

Polymetal

19.5

22.3

2

Cannington

Australia

South 32

24.7

22.2

3

Saucito

Mexico

Fresnillo

15.4

22.0

4

Escobal

Guatemala

Tahoe

20.3

20.4

5

Fresnillo

Mexico

Fresnillo

20.1

15.6

6

Uchucchacua

Peru

Buenaventura

12.1

13.9

7

Pirquitas

Argentina

Silver Standard

8.7

10.3

8

Greens Creek

USA

Hecla

7.8

8.5

9

San Jose

Argentina

Hochschild/McEwen

6.5

6.7

10

Imiter

Morocco

SM d’Imiter

6.0

6.7

11

Gumuskoy

Turkey

Eti Gumus

5.8

5.8

12

Arcata

Peru

Hochschild

5.8

5.6

13

San Bartolome

Bolivia

Coeur

5.9

5.4

14

La Colorada

Mexico

Pan American

5.0

5.3

15

Palmarejo

Mexico

Coeur

6.6

5.1

Source:  Thomson Reuters GFMS

Silver Investment & Price

GFMS assesses identifiable silver  investment, which includes physical bar investment, coins and medals, and exchange traded product (ETP) build, climbed 16% to a near record high in 2015.  Silver coin and bar investment surged 24% to reach 292.3 million ounces, the highest annual demand level in GFMS’ records, overtaking the previous high in 2013.  Coin and bar demand accounted for 25% of total physical demand in 2015, the highest market share on record and up from just 5% a decade earlier. Silver coin and medal demand amounted to 134.1 million ounces of demand last year due to unprecedented growth in several key markets, notably the United States and India.  This perhaps indicates the strong investment demand for silver at the lower prices recorded during 2015.  Of course the price has picked up fairly sharply since the beginning of the current year but still remains below levels achieved in early 2015.

Despite this rise in investment demand for physical metal, holdings in silver-backed Exchange Traded products (ETPs) declined by 17.7million ounces in 2015, finishing the year at 617.8 million ounces.  However, demand in this investment category has rebounded with ETPs reaching 640.0 million ounces at the end of the first quarter 2016. 

GFMS notes that an extremely challenging year for nearly all commodities, along with a continued slowdown in Chinese economic growth and a stronger U.S. dollar, led to a lower average annual silver price of US$15.68/oz in 2015.  However, this lower price environment helped to boost physical demand, particularly as long term investors viewed lower prices as key entry points in expectation of future price appreciation.  Silver is currently trading at over $17 an ounce.

Given that silver is both an investment metal, tending to move with the gold price, but with a little more volatility, and also an industrial metal, the combination of new momentum in gold and better supply/demand fundamentals as suggested by the GFMS report, could bode well for silver throughout the rest of the year providing gold’s price strength can be maintained. Both industrial and investment demand are currently strong which gives the silver bulls a degree of confidence that the past four and a half years of declining silver prices may be behind us.  Silver is definitely worth watching.

The full GFMS silver survey is available free of charge to those with corporate email addresses (webmail addresses are rejected).  To apply click on FREE : GFMS World Silver Survey 2016.

06 May 2016 | Categories: Gold, Silver

Send a message

Can we help?-

We are online Mon-Fri between 9am-5pm. Please leave a message and we'll get back to you.

Our showroom is also open Mon-Fri between 9am-5pm at 54 St James's Street, London, SW1A 1JT.

Contact us on +442078710532.

Many thanks for your time, we will be in touch where appropriate.

Close