Mining is a big part of Australian history, and continues to shape the country’s economy and position in the world today. The nation is one of the world’s top producers and exporters of resources, with coal, uranium, copper and gold being some its best-known commodities. 

Australia is also a key producer of silver – it was the world’s fourth-largest producer of silver in 2015, putting out 1,700 MT of the metal. Interestingly, the majority of the country’s silver is produced as a by-product at highly mechanized leadzinc and/or copper underground mines. Refined silver is mainly produced at the Port Pirie lead smelter and refinery in South Australia, though silver is also refined at gold refineries in Perth, Kalgoorlie and Melbourne.

But while where is silver mined in Australia exactly? While it’s interesting to know what types of deposits the precious metal is found in, many investors want to know what companies are producing the metal and where their mines are located geographically. Read on to find the answers to those questions.

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Where is silver mined in Australia?

Silver has had a role to play in Australia since the mid-1800s – Wheal Gawler, Australia’s first metal mine, was a silver-lead mine developed in South Australia in the 1840s. And that’s not Australia’s only early silver-mining operation – the Broken Hill deposit in New South Wales and the Mt. Isa deposit in Queensland are two other early Australian silver discoveries.

Broken Hill, a lead-zinc-silver deposit, was discovered in 1883 by German immigrant Charles Rasp, and The Broken Hill Propriety Company was born in 1885; it ultimately merged in 2001 with another mining giant, Billiton, to form BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP,NYSE:BHP,LSE:BLT). BHP Billiton is no longer involved in Broken Hill, but ore is still being extracted there today. For its part, Mt. Isa was discovered in 1923 by prospector John Campbell Miles, and like Broken Hill is still in production today.

These major early Australian silver discoveries are by no means the country’s only sources of silver. The country is also home to the Cannington mine, currently the world’s top primary silver producer. It’s a fly-in, fly-out mining and processing operation that’s owned by South32 (ASX:S32,LSE:S32), a diversified resource company spun out from BHP Billiton in 2015. Cannington also produces lead and zinc.

Australia also holds the McArthur River m