Silver is a metal with a variety of applications. It is technically classified as a precious metal, but it has many industrial uses and is used in a variety of technologies and products that most people in the developed world use on a daily basis. In 2021, silver production went down globally to an estimated 24,000 tons versus 25,000 tons in 2020 and 26,500 tons in 2019.
Below are the top global rankings of silver production by country, based on estimated data by the US Geological Survey. Outside of the top 10, the rest of the world produced only 3,550 metric tons in 2021.
- Silver is a precious metal used as both a store of value and in industrial applications.
- Investors and traders buy physical silver through commodities markets and ETFs as well as mining company stocks.
- Silver production is a key export for certain countries, and we list the top 10 global silver producers below.
With silver production at 800 metric tons in 2021, Argentina rounds out the top 10. It joins several other Latin American nations on the list, including Bolivia, Peru, Chile, and Mexico.
9. United States
In 2021, the U.S. produced 1,000 metric tons 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.
The South American nation of Bolivia ranks eighth on the list, tying with border country Argentina. It produced 1,000 metric tons of silver in 2021. The country has many silver mines, especially the Cerro Rico de Potosí which is estimated to still have large deposits of silver inside. The San Cristobal mine in Bolivia has the third-largest silver deposits of any single mine in the world.
Australia is a country that has held relatively stable silver production levels. The country produced 1,300 metric tons of silver in 2021, although it has the third-largest silver reserves after Peru and Poland. Australia is about 80% of the geographic size of the United States.
Poland produced 1,300 metric tons of silver in 2021 . Poland holds a unique place in the silver markets: despite being a small country the size of New Mexico, it has large silver reserves of 70,000 metric tons.
Russia is twice as large as the United States but only produced 1,300 metric tons in 2021. The total silver deposits of Russia are estimated at 45,000 metric tons.
Chile produced 1,600 metric tons in 2021. Chile is comparable in size to Texas and has an estimated 26,000 metric tons of silver reserves.
Peru has steadily grown its silver production levels and has maintained its second-place ranking from 2018 to 2019. The South American nation produced 3,000 metric tons of silver in 2021, down from 4,160 metric tons in 2018 due to the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with ongoing protester blockades and some worker strikes. While a small country, Peru is thought to have the world's largest reserves of silver, with 91,000 metric tons.
In 2021, China produced 3,400 metric tons of silver. The country lost its second-place ranking to Peru in 2016, but retook it in 2020.
The number-one silver-producing country in the world is Mexico. The country produced 5,600 metric tons in 2021. Silver production in Mexico is only expected to increase further.
How Much Silver Has Ever Been Mined in the World?
According to the USGS, roughly 1.74 million metric tons of silver has ever been mined to date. If that were melted down and made into a cube, all the silver ever discovered would fit in a cube 55 meters (!180.5 feet) on each side.
How Much Silver Reserves Are Estimated to Yet Be Extracted?
Geologists and mining companies estimate that there are about 2.7–3.1 million metric tons of recoverable silver remaining in the world.
What Is Sterling Silver?
Silver is gauged by its "fineness," or the percentage of silver actually present in the metal or ore. 100% fineness would be pure silver. Sterling silver, on the other hand, is defined as an alloy containing 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper (and/or other metals).
What Is the Price of Silver?
The price of silver fluctuates in the market based on its supply and demand. Investors look to silver as a store of value and investment as a precious metal. Others purchase silver for jewelry, coinage, or other industrial uses.
As of April 2022, one troy ounce of silver traded for roughly USD $23.50.