The Silver Institute’s “World Silver Survey 2012” report hasn’t surprised investors and market participants. Silver mining output hit record highs last year, while silver demand from end users and investors remained robust – despite silver’s correction phase which started close to a year ago. The Silver Institute is one of the most important organisations in the silver sector, comprising producers, dealers and numerous companies that use silver. Thus, this study is of significance.
Although global investment demand dropped slightly to 282.2 million ounces (8,766 tonnes) this marginal decline isn’t too consequential, since in 2011 silver registered a higher average price than in the previous year. As a consequence, the financial value of global silver demand reached a new record high of almost $10 billion – a 73% increase on the previous year. Demand for silver coins and medals climbed by 129% to a new record high of 118.2 million ounces (3,677 tonnes). In comparison with 2010 demand for silver bars increased 67% to 95.7 million ounces (2,975 tonnes).
Currently the silver price is moving in a fairly narrow trading range, oscillating around the $31.50 per ounce mark, which is an important resistance level. As the study shows, high investment demand last year was largely triggered by investors’ increasing fears of a continuing devaluation of the US dollar and the euro. Many investors are keeping a close eye on the central banks and their moves – especially the US Federal Reserve (Fed) and the European Central Bank (ECB). Fears of continuous global debt monetisation are driving more and more investors to buy goldand silver.
Demand from industrial end users also recorded impressive gains last year. Although towards the end of 2011 demand from industrial clients – which include the jewellery, electronics and medical industries – dropped slightly owing to economic problems in the eurozone, the study by the Silver Institute forecasts a continuation of silver’s upward trend for 2012. In the face of growing silver demand at the global markets and a rapid price appreciation it comes as no surprise that global mining companies significantly increased silver production for the reported period.
Exploration activities by junior mining companies and the recovery of mines which had been in disuse contributed to this increase in global silver supply – 2011 being the ninth year of mine supply increases. In comparison with the previous year mine production climbed 1.4% to a new record high of 761.6 million ounces, or 23,689 tonnes.