You might know which country produces the most silver, but do you know the top silver countries by reserves?
Silver investors are usually interested in finding out which countries produce the most ounces of silver. After all, if a nation is producing an abundance of the white metal, many mining companies are likely operating there, and investment opportunities may be available.
However, it’s also worth looking at silver reserves, also known as a country’s economically mineable silver supply. In general, the world’s largest global silver producers also have high silver reserves, but some countries with high silver reserves are not mining much of the metal.
Where there’s room to grow silver mine supply, there may be money to be made as well. For that reason, precious metals investors should be aware of which countries may eventually become powerhouses that are able to supply global silver demand.
With that in mind, here’s an overview of top silver countries by reserves. All information collected is based on the US Geological Survey’s most recent data on silver.
Silver reserves: 120,000 MT
At 120,000 metric tons (MT), Peru is at the top of the list for highest silver reserves by country in the world. And unlike some countries with high silver reserves, the nation was a major producer of silver in 2019. It put out 3,800 MT of the metal, coming in second place in the world in silver production.
The majority of Peru’s physical silver is produced at the Antamina mine, located in the province of Huari. The mine is a joint venture between BHP (ASX:BHP,NYSE:BHP,LSE:BHP), Glencore (LSE:GLEN,OTC Pink:GLCNF), Teck Resources (TSX:TECK.B,NYSE:TECK) and Mitsubishi (OTC Pink:MSBHF,TSE:8058). Although it is primarily a copper mine, it still produces more silver than any other in the country.
The mining industry accounts for more than 50 percent of Peru’s total exports, and silver is considered a “flagship product,” with a rich history dating back to pre-Columbian times. Peru also leads the way in the copper space, as it is the second largest copper producer in the world. Additionally, Peru consistently ranks as one of the world’s largest producers of economically important metals such as zinc, tin and gold.
Silver reserves: 100,000 MT
Another one of the world’s leading silver countries is Poland, with silver reserves nearly matching Peru’s. Despite its reserves of 100,000 MT, Poland produced just 1,700 MT of silver in 2019. Much of that came from KGHM Polska Miedsz (WSE:KGH), which is consistently one of the world’s top silver miners.
Currently, around 75 percent of silver is obtained as a by-product of copper mining. KGHM’s mineable resources, based on concessions currently held, including the new Deep Glogow deposit, are estimated at 1.1 billion tonnes of copper ore grading 2.08 percent copper and 58 grams per tonne silver.
Silver reserves: 90,000 MT
Mining operations in Australia produce much less of the silver mineral than Peru and Poland, but the country’s reserves of the metal are nevertheless high. The nation put out only 1,400 MT of silver in 2019, but its holdings stand at 90,000 MT.
Silver mining goes all the way back to the early 1900s in Australia. BHP began as a silver producer there in the 1920s, and today South32 (ASX:S32,OTC Pink:SHTLF), an offshoot of BHP, operates the Cannington mine in the same region. The mine produces the most silver ounces for the country.
More top silver countries by reserves
Peru, Poland and Australia lead the world with the highest silver reserves, but there were many other top silver countries by reserves in 2019. Here’s a quick look at where other nations stand:
- Russia — 57,000 MT
- China — 41,000 MT
- Mexico — 37,000 MT
- Chile — 26,000 MT
- US — 25,000 MT
- Bolivia — 22,000 MT
Various other countries hold a total of 57,000 MT of silver reserves, according to the US Geological Survey. The total world reserves figure sits at 560,000 MT.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.