The first fact that jumps off the page is that the future for silver looks remarkable with industrial silver demand rising from 15,160 tons (487 million ounces) in 2010 to 20,712 tons (666 million ounces) in 2015. Much of the growth in the global total of industrial silver consumption will be driven by stronger demand for a number of established uses including the manufacture of electrical contacts and the use of silver in the photo voltaic industry. New uses center on silver's antibacterial qualities, while other new uses tend to make use of its conductive properties, including solid state lighting and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags. Overall please note that silver’s importance in the technology of the day is huge. We go so far as to say that the demand from silver has transformed from a want to a need! Whether we are in a boom or bust silver’s demand will remain robust. It is now needed to make all facets of an economy run well and at all levels, even down to individual needs. This secures its future and assures us that silver prices are well supported. Here is the list of the amounts used in different applications that emphasize this point.
- Cell phones used 404.35 tonnes [13 million ounces] of silver last year.
- Computers consumed 684.29 tonnes [22 million ounces].
- Thick film PV consumed 1,461.90 tonnes [47 million ounces] in 2010.
- Automobiles which used 1,119.75 tonnes [36 million ounces] of silver.
- Electrical and electronics demand for silver reached an all-time high of 7,555.21 tonnes [242.9 million ounces].
- Solar Power in 2011 is expected to reach 2,177.29 tonnes [70 million ounces], up 40%.
- RFID tags in 2010 reached between 31 and 62 tonnes with a long way to go before reaching full market.
- Water purification used 62 tonnes [2 million ounces] set to grow to 74.65 tonnes [2.4 million ounces].
- Medical applications may grow strongly to reach 93.3 tonnes [3 million ounces] by 2015.
- The use of nano-silver in goods packaging and hygiene combined would consume 124.4 tonnes [4 million ounces] of silver over the next five years.
Silver is consumed
While photographic use of silver allows for the re-cycling of silver, reclamation of silver from most of the above uses is difficult to nigh-on-impossible. This in itself assures either a constant or rising demand for these applications. Of particular note is the growth in Asia where we are watching around half of the globe’s population developing at infrastructural level as never before. This growth will continue at double figures, per annum for at least the next decade. Gold is rarely consumed as it is deemed far too valuable. Reclamation efforts relative to the value of the gold ensures that scrap merchants will go to extraordinary lengths to recover the gold. In silver’s case these efforts would cost more than the sale of the silver so used. As the silver price rises further reclamation efforts will become profitable and more silver will be recovered, but we are still a long way off from that day.
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