Silver bullion in silver bars, silver coins and silver rounds are regularly bought and sold by investors, collectors, and dealers. Investors hold silver bullion because it has many advantages over other investments. The Perth Mint is the only operating mint in Australia, and it has a reputation for silver-fineness accuracy, purity, and precision. The public and precious metal dealers buy silver bullion from the Perth Mint, and dealers also buy silver bullion from people who want to sell silver bullion Brisbane, who have many reputable bullion dealers.
How does native silver occur?
An estimated 530,000 million tonnes of silver remain underground globally, and already mined silver ore amounts to 1.74 million tonnes. Peru and Australia have the most significant remaining share of untapped silver. Australia is sitting on about 87 million tonnes of untapped silver.
Silver (Ag) is unusual because it seldom occurs in that form. There are no occurrences where native silver is the only mineral mined, but many mines collect silver as a bonus mineral. It commonly replaces or substitutes elements such as lead, copper, zinc, or gold. What this means is that galena (PbS) can have a chemical composition (PbAg)S, and tetrahedrite ((Cu, Fe, Zn, Ag)12Sb4S13) invariably contains some silver. Electrum (AuAg) is gold that is rich in silver. There are tiny amounts of silver in the framework of many sulphide minerals. A common mineable grade for silver is 5 grams per tonne. Visualise a cubic metre of sand and a teaspoon of silver dispersed in that sand. It is no wonder silver is a precious metal.
Silver is a significant role player in Australia’s economy. Australia’s silver mines produced 1,300 metric tonnes of silver in 2020, slightly lower than in 2019. Australia’s silver production has been decreasing since 2010, and it is now the seventh-largest producer of silver in the world. In 2020, Mexico produced almost four times more silver than Australia. At least twelve mines in Australia have silver, and Broken Hill and Mount Isa are the principal silver mines. Surface and underground silver mines occur throughout the different Australian provinces.
How is silver collected and concentrated?
Metallurgists concentrate the sulphide minerals using a flotation process. Sulphide minerals and unwanted minerals are separated—the silver upgrades from 5 grams per tonne to 800 grams per tonne. The second stage removes the sulphide minerals from the silver.
Partial melting drives off sulphur dioxide, and smelting removes impurities—a crude lead concentrate results, which is refined and separated from the silver. Port Pirie smelter produces 450 tonnes of silver every year, using silver ore from various mines around Australia. Some Australian mines like Mt. Isa collect a lead-silver concentrate and smelt it to form lead bullion. The lead bullion is exported to the United Kingdom, refined into different silver and lead metal. The Perth Mint refines some of Australia’s silver, and the remainder exported to Japan.
It is no wonder that silver is a sound investment. People believe in silver and have made money from silver. When things get tough financially, the go into their safe and sell silver bullion Brisbane.