Silver has a long history as a precious metal used in jewellery and currency. Today, however, the majority of demand for the white metal is for industrial purposes.
Silver has many unique properties that make it an ideal material for a number of industrial uses. It has the highest thermal and electrical conductivity of all metals. It's also antibacterial, durable, reflective and malleable.
Recently, BullionVault.com listed 21 uses for silver including:
- jet engines
- long life batteries
- 3D printing
- water purifiers
- laundry detergent
At the recent Silver Industrial Conference in Washington DC, attendees heard about the diverse and growing demand for silver – from ethylene oxide production to safety features in modern vehicles.
Industrial demand for silver is forecast to grow by 2% in 2018 and should reach an all-time high on rising demand from the solar and automotive sectors. Global silver demand from the solar industry is estimated to have increased by 20% in 2017.
At the same time, the global supply of silver is expected to decrease in 2018 and beyond.
Sprott Asset Management predicts that there will be a 50 million ounce deficit of silver supply between now and 2021.
“We’re just not seeing silver discoveries. We’re not seeing a lot of viable future mines in silver. It’s a problem, and that’s what reinforces our positive view on the silver price." - Maria Smirnova, Senior Portfolio Manager | Sprott Asset Management
As a result, many industry observers predict that the price of silver will climb in the coming years as demand grows and production falls.
From ethylene oxide and plastics to electronics and nuclear energy, researchers will continue to find new applications that leverage silver's unique properties. The mining industry will have to discover and build new mines in order to meet this demand and help create a brighter future.