DOING SOME DIGGING The Shiny Side of Silver

Good news about silver is easy to come by this week. First, WHEATON RIVER MINERALS is spinning off its silver asset...
Good news about silver is easy to come by this week. First, WHEATON RIVER MINERALS is spinning off its silver assets (see item below), and second there is the rising demand as tracked by the World Silver Survey 2004. According to the survey the industrial use of silver was up nearly 3% to 351.2 million oz in 2003. The rise was due to an improving global economy, a strong electronics sector, and growing Chinese fabrication.

Let's look at some of the figures supplied by the SILVER INSTITUTE of Washington, D.C. The total world silver supply was 880.2 million oz in 2003, compared with the 2002 supply of 870.7 million oz. Mine production dropped 0.1% to 595.6 million oz in 2003 compared with 2002. Total demand matched the supply figures, with silver use in selected sectors (industrial applications, photography, jewellery, silverware, coins and medals) totalling 859.2 million oz last year, compared with 845.8 million oz a year earlier. The average 2003 price was up as well to US$4.88/oz, compared with US$4.60 in 2002.

Even more interesting is the Silver Institute's third quarter 2004 newsletter. In it are some amazing uses for silver. There are now bandages for consumers that contain silver in the wound pad to protect minor cuts and scrapes from infections without the use of antibacterial creams. For health care professionals, the new Silvercel antimicrobial alginate dressing has hit the market. It combines the biocidal protection of silver with the absorbency and biodegradability of seaweed from which the dressings are made. There are silver-based (silver dihydrogen citrate, a patented new molecule) antibacterial solutions approved for killing germs on hard surfaces in restaurants, medical facilities, childcare facilities and toys. A Korean company is applying nano silver technology to its line of refrigerators to provide protection against bacteria and odours. All 12 Calgary regional hospitals are installing silver-copper ion water treatment units after Legionnaires Disease was discovered at two of them.

These new uses for silver are only the beginning of what looks to be an exciting trend in humanity's war on germs. I suspect, however, that a single sterling silver teaspoon could provide enough silver atoms for thousands of bandages or a million little bottles of antibacterial solution.

A rummage through back issues of the Silver Institute's newsletter turns up the fact that silver kills the SARS virus. It also fights mold, mildew and bacterial damage when added to facings, grout, roofing, flooring, paint and wallpaper. Silver has been used in commercial icemakers, tattoo removal, fresh-smelling socks, and veterinary practice. It sounds like, from the perspective of the Silver Institute at least, this metal will soon be the gold-standard of healthier living.

The World Silver Survey is compiled annually by London, U.K.-based GFMS LTD. It is available for US$195 from the Silver Institute, 120 G Street NW, Suite 800, Washington, D.C. 20005 or at


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