Recycling silver by way of melting coins that contain the precious
metal is estimated to be nearly five times higher in Europe than North
America during 2015, according to a Sept. 9 report commissioned by The
The 30-page report, executed by the London-based precious
metals consultancy Metals Focus, presents estimates suggesting that
silver coin recycling in North America could contrbute 1 million troy
ounces, while coin-melting in Europe could reach 4.6 million troy
ounces. The largest contributor to Europe's total is Germany, which
scraps unsold silver commemorative coins, according to the report. At
the coin-melting level, the North American total is not subdivided
among involved countries.
According to the report "Silver Scrap: The Forgotten
Fundamental," silver from coin recycling is forecast at 1 million
troy ounces in North America and 4.4 million troy ounces in Europe
during calendar year 2016, with amounts forecast for 2017 at 800,000
troy ounces and 4.2 million troy ounces, respectively.
Establishing a true level in silver coin scrap in North America is
difficult, according to the report, because of difficulties in
determining what constitutes scrap and what constitutes "disinvestment."
"We would, for example, certainly exclude from scrap the
(limited) melt of modern era bullion coins, such as the US Eagle or
Canadian Maple Leaf," according to the report. However, it is
understood that sizable volumes of old circulating coins are still
being melted down. Even though massive volumes of these coins were
struck, relatively few examples now find their way into the market,
simply because of the quantities that had already been sold back
during the 1980s and 1990s. In terms of the pieces that are
liquidated, the 40 percent [silver clad] coins are also popular with
brazing alloy manufacturers, given the coins’ significant copper content."
Silver recycling by industrial users comprises the largest recycling
sector, accounting for 91.1 million ounces in 2015 out of the global
estimated total of 167.5 million ounces combined for all recycling sectors.
The full report can be found here.