While it’s perhaps most important for silver-focused investors to be aware of how the metal is traded and when its price may rise again, those interested in the metal would also do well to be aware of which country has the most silver.

Knowing which country has the most silver is important for a number of reasons. Perhaps most crucially, having that knowledge can help investors identify silver investing opportunities. For example, if an investor is aware that a country is a major silver producer, they might consider investing in silver companies working in that country.

A silver investor following that strategy would likely have at least a little luck. Case in point: Mexico was the world’s largest silver producer in 2015, and because it’s a mining-friendly environment, many silver companies are seeing exploration and mining success in the nation.

However, that strategy won’t work in every case. Some major metals producers are less hospitable to public companies, preferring instead to extract the bulk of their resources via state-owned companies. That is often the case in China, though interestingly Silvercorp Metals (TSX:SVM) bills itself as the country’s largest primary silver producer.

Get Our Expert Guide to Silver Investing FREE!

Download this FREE Special Report, When Will Silver Go Up: Is the Highest Price of Silver Still to Come?

 

All in all, those factors make it worth investors’ while to look at which country has the most silver. Here’s a brief overview of the 10 top silver-producing countries of 2015, based on the latest estimates from the US Geological Survey.

1. Mexico

Mine production: 5,400 MT

Mexico remained the world’s largest silver producer in 2015, with its output rising by an impressive 400 MT to hit 5,400 MT.

The country is home to Fresnillo (LSE:FRES), one of the most productive silver companies in the world. Fresnillo mines silver and gold at six different projects throughout Mexico, and has several other projects in various stages of development. In April, the company released its production report for the three months ending March 31, 2016 and reported it is on track to achieve 2016 production guidance of of 49 to 51 million ounces of silver, and 776,000-790,000 ounces of gold.  Its aim is to produce 65 million ounces of silver and 750,000 ounces of gold annually by 2018.

Interestingly, Goldcorp (TSX:G) is Mexico’s other large silver producer, and its Penasquito mine posted the second-highest silver production in 2013. Like many silver mines, Penasquito is primarily a gold project – silver is often coincident with other resources, and is regularly mined as a by-product. Silver production is expected to total 22 to 24 million ounces in 2016. 

2. China

Mine production: 4,100 MT

Back in 2002, China was the world’s fourth-largest silver producer, and the Silver Institute described it as a “solid ‘mid-tier’ producer of silver.” Since then, the country’s production has steadily increased to make it the second-biggest silver producer in the world; 2015 output came in at 4,100 MT. The Silver Institute attributes a large part of this rise to China’s development of other mining operations – as of 2012, nearly 95 percent of Chinese silver production was a by-product of other mining projects.

As stated, Silvercorp Metals describes itself as China’s largest primary silver producer. It has multiple mines in China, and most recently started production at its GC project in the country. 

3. Peru

Mine production: 3,800 MT

In addition to being the world’s third-biggest silver producer at 3,800 MT in 2015