Precious Metals

World silver demand hits record high in 2013

Worldwide silver demand hit an all-time record high during 2013, reaching 1,081 million ounces, according to the Silver Institute in its recent publication, World Silver Survey 2014.

The record demand was fueled by a 76 percent hike in retail sales for bars and coins, coupled with recovery in silver fabrication and jewelry, according to the survey.

Purchases of silver coins and medals rose 38 percent to a record 38 million coins. Demand for bullion bars more than doubled in 2013 from the previous year, according to the survey.

Over the 10-year period charted from 2004 through 2013, coin and bar sales went from a low of 48.7 million ounces in 2006, to 245.6 million ounces in 2013.

Physical bar investment, coins and medals, and increased exchange traded funds inventories rose 27 percent to a three-year high, reaching 247.2 million ounces.

Demand for physical bullion bars climbed 138 percent in 2013, sparked by buyers in India, according to the survey. Bar investment in India totaled 80.7 million ounces, eight times more than in 2012 and the highest on record.

Demand in the United States for bars up to 100 ounces was flat, according to the survey.

Coin fabrication and prices

Worldwide silver coin fabrication surged 38 percent to 118.5 million ounces in 2013. Silver coin and medal production in the United States in 2013 accounted for 44.2 million ounces of the worldwide total.

According to the World Silver Survey 2014, silver prices averaged $23.79 per troy ounce in 2013, the third highest nominal annual average price on record, but down 24 percent from the previous year.

Over the 10-year period through 2013, the average silver price spanned from a low of $6.658 per troy ounce in 2004, to a high average of $35.114 in 2011.

Stocks of silver and production

Above-ground stocks dropped 23.2 percent to 199.7 million ounces i n 2013.

“Scrap experienced the largest year-on-year reduction since the 1980s, due to a combination of softer silver prices and an exhaustion of ‘distressed’ coin and jewelry recycling,” according to the survey.

Mexico led the world in silver production with 169.7 million ounces, followed by Peru with 118.1 million ounces, China with 118 million ounces, Australia with 59.2 million ounces and Russia with 45.4 million ounces.

U.S. silver production reached 35 million ounces in 2013, ranking the United States ninth in production from among 20 countries charted.

The complete World Silver Survey 2014 in pdf format can be found online.

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