Silver is a metal with a variety of applications. It is technically classified as a precious metal but it has many industrial uses, and it is used in a variety of technologies and products that most people in the developed world use on a daily basis. Below are the top 10 silver-producing countries in the world based on estimated 2017 data by the US Geological Survey.
10: United States
Ranked tenth on the list of top silver-producing countries is the United States. In 2017, it produced 1,020 metric tonnes of the metal, mainly from three dedicated silver mines and nearly 40 other base and precious metal mining operations around the country. The two top silver-producing states are Alaska and Nevada. Overall silver production for the United States dropped 130 metric tonnes in 2017 from 2016.
With silver production at 1,200 metric tonnes for 2017, Kazakhstan joins the crowded ninth-spot on this list. Last year saw its silver production increase by 1.6%. The total silver reserves for the country were not determined.
The South American nation of Bolivia, officially named the Plurinational State of Bolivia, also ranks ninth on the list. It produced 1,200 metric tonnes of silver in 2017, a little less than its 2016 production of 1,350 metric tonnes. The country has many silver mines, especially in the Potosi region and has room to expand. The San Cristobal mine in Bolivia has the third-largest silver deposits of any single mine in the world. Bolivia is about the size of Texas.
Chile produced 1,200 metric tonnes in 2017, down from 1,500 metric tonnes in 2016. Chile is comparable in size to Texas and has estimated 27,000 metric tonnes of silver reserves.
Although silver production dropped as compared to 2016, Australia produced 1,200 metric tonnes of silver in 2017. Australia is about 80% of the size of the United States.
Poland produced 1,400 metric tonnes of silver in 2017, up about 10% from 2016. Poland holds a unique place in the silver markets: It is tied with Australia as having the world's second-largest deposits of the metal. Poland is about as large as New Mexico.
Russia, twice as large as the United States, produced the fourth-largest amount of silver. In 2017, it's silver output was 1,600 metric tonnes, rising slightly from 1,570 metric tonnes in 2016. The total silver deposits of Russia are estimated at 55,000 metric tonnes.
In 2017, China produced 2,500 metric tonnes of silver. Interestingly, 95% of China's silver production is the byproduct of other mining operations. The country lost its second place to Peru in 2016, and the country produces a little more than double the amount of silver that the U.S. does. China and the United States are comparable in size.
In 2016, Peru saw a large jump in silver production catapulting it into second place. The South American nation produced 4,500 metric tonnes of silver in 2017. This is approximately a 3% increase from 2016 production. Peru is thought to have the world's largest reserves of silver, with 93,000 known metric tonnes. This country is about the size of Alaska.
The number-one silver-producing country in the world is Mexico. In 2017, the country produced 5,600 metric tonnes of the metal, an increase of 240 metric tonnes over its 2016 numbers. Silver production in Mexico is expected to increase further in 2018. Mexico is about the same size as Alaska.