Silver investors are often interested to hear which countries produce the most of the metal. After all, if a nation is producing a lot of silver, many companies are likely operating there — and investment opportunities may thus be available.
However, what investors sometimes fail to consider is silver reserves, or how much economically mineable silver a country holds. While in general the world’s top silver-producing countries also hold high silver reserves, in some cases countries with high silver reserves are not putting out much of the metal.
With that in mind, here’s an overview of silver reserves by country, with a particular focus on the three countries that currently hold the highest silver reserves. Though it’s certainly important for investors to be aware of where silver is currently being mined, it’s also worth keeping an eye on which countries may eventually become powerhouses in the industry.
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At 98,900 MT, Peru holds the highest silver reserves in the world by a long shot. And unlike some countries with high silver reserves, the nation was a top producer of silver in 2014 — it put out 3,700 MT of the metal, coming in third place in the world.
The majority of Peru’s silver is produced at the Antamina mine, a joint venture between BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP,NYSE:BHP,LSE:BLT), Glencore (LSE:GLEN), Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B,NYSE:TCK) and Mitsubishi (TSE:8058). While the mine produces more silver than any other in the country, it is primarily a copper mine, and silver is produced as a by-product.
Australia produces much less silver than Peru, but its reserves of the metal are nevertheless high — it put out 1,900 MT of silver in 2014, and its reserves stand at 85,000 MT.
That said, silver mining has a rich history in Australia. BHP Billiton began as a silver producer there in the 1920s, and it remains the country’s largest producer of the metal, operating the Cannington mine in Queensland.
Poland is tied with Australia with silver reserves of 85,000 MT. It produced just 1,200 MT of silver in 2014, with much of that coming from KGHM Polska Miedsz (WSE:KGH). The company is consistently one of the world’s top silver-producing companies, and could become larger.
According to CommodityHQ.com, Poland’s silver reserves did not used to be that high. The US Geological Survey recently revised them upward after receiving new information from the country and from silver industry sources.
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More silver reserves by country
Peru, Australia and Poland have the highest silver reserves, but many other countries also hold significant silver reserves. Here’s a quick look at where other nations stand:
- Chile — 77,000 MT
- China — 43,000 MT
- Mexico — 37,000 MT
- US — 25,000 MT
- Bolivia — 22,000 MT
- Canada — 7,000 MT
Various other countries hold a total of 55,000 MT of silver reserves, with the world total sitting at 530,000 MT. Data is unavailable on silver reserves for Russia, which was a top producer of silver in 2014 at 1,700 MT.
Securities Disclosure: I, Charlotte McLeod, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.