Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Prospecting for Silver

The price of Silver has fluctuated some over recent months but it remains at levels that make it an attractive mineral for prospecting attention. As of Nov 3 Silver made gains of 0.8 percent, to $34.48 per ounce.

Silver has always been seen as a favourite mineral in the prospecting community; while not as exciting as Gold or PGM's it still is an attention getter when discovered. The grade needs to be higher than more expensive precious metals like gold, but having lesser amounts as by-products in lead, zinc and copper deposits certainly adds value to the overall ore.

The three silver hotspots in the world are Mexico, Peru and China. These countries boost the best grades and annual production of silver in the world. In 2010 Mexico produced 129 million ounces, Peru put out 116 million ounces and it is estimated that China produced over 99 million ounces.

Numerous companies mine and explore for silver in many regions of the world, some focused entirely pure silver mines yet many others have silver as a valuable metal in poly-metallic mineral deposits.  In many cases the silver is not the primary metal being mined however its content serves well to create additional income and in increasing the overall value per tonne of ore mined.

While it would be great to be able to prospect for and find a viable silver mine, finding one may be a challenge in any location these days. What may be more valuable to the prospector is working on some base metal occurrences and reviewing them for their potential of also hosting silver as a by-product metal. This may add greater value to a marginal deposit of lead, zinc, copper etc. So it is something that you should assay for if it hasn't already been checked. Even in gold and other mineral deposits it is always a good idea to run a couple of assays for silver and for that matter numerous metals.

Most assay labs offer lower cost ICP type analysis that cover up to 30 or more elements, and you should always have a couple of those done on any mineral indications you find. It will provide a base level idea of the composition and allow you to focus future assay work and finances.

Happy Prospecting!

Top 20 Silver Producing Countries in 2010
(millions of ounces)

1.         Mexico              128.6
2.         Peru                   116.1
3.         China                   99.2
4.         Australia              59.9
5.         Chile                    41.0
6.         Bolivia                 41.0
7.         United States       38.6
8.         Poland                 37.7
9.         Russia                  36.8
10.        Argentina            20.6
11.        Canada               18.0
12.        Kazakhstan         17.6
13.        Turkey                12.3
14.        Morocco              9.7
15.        India                     9.7
16.        Sweden                9.2
17.        Indonesia              6.9
18.        Guatemala            6.3
19.        Iran                       3.4
20.        South Africa          2.8