Mining of silver
From artisans to giant, modern silver mines
Silver has been mined in different ways for thousands of years, with artisanal mining evolving to sluice mining and then larger scale open pit mining today. However, silver mining today finds itself in an abnormal situation.
Over two thirds of current silver mine supply is as a result of mining other metals such as lead, zinc and nickel. Silver is essentially a by-product of other mining, with the largest single supply of mined silver coming from the Cannington lead mine run by BHP Billiton in Australia.
With so few pure silver mines economically viable, the supply of silver bars is relatively unresponsive to rises in spot silver prices. The future of silver mining may change though, with rising silver prices, and if the gold silver ratio falls from ~50:1 to reflect the actual 15:1 occurrence of silver and gold in the ground.