How Much Silver Is Left In The World, Will We Run Out, & What Happens If We Do?

In this guide, we discuss the world’s silver resources and reserves.

We outline how much we might have left, if we might run out and when, what might happen if we do, and more.


Summary – The World’s Silver Resources

The Different Uses Of Silver Across Society, & Why It’s Important

Silver has a number of important uses across society, and has different physical traits that makes it suitable for some of these uses

We list these uses and traits in the guide below


How Much Silver Is Left In The World? – Resources, & Reserves

There’s currently more discovered resources than proven reserves of silver in the world

Additionally, the discovery of silver resources can be associated with the discovery of other metal deposits, and, silver can be a by-product of the deposits of other metals


Country With The Largest Silver Mine Reserves

Peru currently has the largest silver mine reserves


Silver Holdings/Stockpile

In the guide below, we’ve included a resource that explains which groups hold most of the world’s silver bullions

Unlike gold, central banks don’t prioritize silver holdings/stockpiles


Total Global Silver Mine Production

In 2021, global silver mine production was 24,000 metric tons

This silver is primarily obtained as a by-product of the mining of other metals


Countries That Produce The Most Silver

Mexico currently produces the most silver from mines


How Much Silver Has Been Mined Throughout History?

In 2018, estimates suggest about 1.6 million tonnes of silver has been mined throughout history


What Has Happened To The Silver That Has Been Mined?

Some reports indicate that most mined silver ends up lost in industrial practices, or in landfill


Total Global Silver Demand

In the last decade or so, annual global silver demand has ranged between 896.1 million ounces to 1071 million ounces


Are We Running Out Of Silver, & Will We Run Out Of Silver In The Future?

It doesn’t appear as though we will run out of silver in the short term.

However, whether silver reserves start getting depleted beyond a critical level in the medium to long term depends on different factors – some of which we list in the guide below.

We also explain other factors that may impact silver supplies in the medium to long term 


When Will We Run Out Of Silver? … How Many Years Worth Of Silver Do We Have Left?

We include some estimates as potential (but not definitive) answers to this question in the guide below

These estimates range from supply becoming an issue around 2030, to silver reserves completely depleting by the year 2240

We also identify some of the considerations that these estimates may not have taken into account

Something we also point out is how global silver reserves have been relatively stable over the last decade without showing a consistent depreciating trend


Silver Shortages

Different reports have different analysis’ on silver shortages. 

We’ve listed a couple of different reports that have differing information on silver shortages in the guide below


What Happens If We Start Running Out Of Silver?

Factors like availability of silver and also the price of silver may start to be impacted more heavily


Managing Silver Resources More Sustainably

We outline some of the ways silver might be managed more sustainably as a resource in the guide below


Uses For Silver Across Society, & Why It’s Important

Some of the physical properties of silver that make it useful for different applications according to are ‘… high ductility, electrical conductivity, malleability, and reflectivity’

Some of the uses for silver across society include but aren’t limited to:

– Jewelry and silverware


– Wealth preservation

Investing in physical bars and bullions is a potential example of wealth preservation in inflationary environments


– Electronics and technology production

Silver has good electrical and thermal conductivity as a metal, and has the highest electrical conductivity of all metals, with copper in second

It’s traits make it useful for electronics and technology applications, such as for electrical contacts and conductors, solder, and printed circuit boards

Also, in addition to being used in current electronics and technology products, silver may see increased demand in future electronics and technology products


– Industrial applications

Once again, silver’s traits can make it useful for specific industrial applications, such as being used as a catalyst in different manufacturing processes (ethylene oxide and formaldehyde are two industrial chemicals that can use silver as a catalyst)


– Coins and medals


– Other uses

Such as industrial uses, electroplating, health and medicine (such as dental amalgam), and more


– % share of the different uses of silver in the US

In 2021, the estimated domestic uses for silver [in the US] were physical investment, 26%; electrical and electronics, 21%; coins and medals, 11%; jewelry and silverware, 4%; and other, 38% (


How Much Silver Is Left In The World? – Resources, & Reserves

At present, there appears to be more silver resources that have been discovered than total confirmed reserves

Something that’s worth mentioning about silver resources is that they tend to be associated with the discovery of deposits of other metals, and also, silver can be found as a by-product in deposits of other metals too 



… 1,740,000 metric tons of silver [has been] discovered to date [and] 55% [has been] found in just four countries on earth (




[The 2022 USGS Mineral Commodities Summary Report indicates that total global silver reserves are 530,000 metric tons] 

[However, some countries’ silver reserves were not available to be included in the total]


[It is estimated] that the ultimately recoverable reserves of silver are in the range 2.7–3.1 million tonne silver … (


Silver Discoveries Associated With The Discovery Of Deposits Of Other Metals indicates that:

Most recent silver discoveries have been associated with gold occurrences; however, copper and lead-zinc occurrences that contain byproduct silver will continue to account for a significant share of reserves and resources in the future


Which Countries Have The Largest Silver Reserves?

Peru has the largest silver mine reserves, followed by Australia, and then Poland



[The 2022 USGS Mineral Commodities Summary Report indicates that the country with the largest silver reserves is Peru at 120,000 metric tons] 

[Australia is second at 90,000, with Poland third at 67,000]

[However, some countries’ silver reserves were not available]


Total World Silver Holdings

Silver holdings and stockpiles are different to silver mine reserves

Unlike gold, central banks don’t hold as much silver as they used to (if at all). 

We’ve included a resource that outlines who owns the most silver bullion in the world today if it’s not central banks


… global physical holdings of silver reached a reported 36,600 tons (1.18 billion troy ounces) [in 2021] compared with 33,200 tons (1.07 billion troy ounces) in 2020 (


Countries With Largest Silver Holdings

At this point in time, we couldn’t find data on the countries with the largest silver holdings


Total Silver Production

Total Silver Production


[The 2022 USGS Mineral Commodities Summary Report indicates that total global silver production from mines was 24,000 metric tons in 2021] 


How Silver Is Obtained During Mining Production

[It’s also worth mentioning that] Although silver was a principal product at several mines, silver was primarily obtained as a byproduct from lead-zinc, copper, and gold mines, in descending order of production (


Countries That Produce The Most Silver 

Mexico produces the most silver from mines, followed by China in second, and then Peru



[The 2022 USGS Mineral Commodities Summary Report indicates that in 2021, the country that produced the most silver from mines was Mexico at 5,600 metric tons]

[China was second at 3,400, and Peru third at 3,000]


How Much Silver Has Already Been Mined Throughout History?

It is estimated that, by 2018, over 1.6 million tonnes of silver had been physically mined throughout history (


Some Mined Silver Hasn’t Been Recovered Or Re-Used

Being lost to industrial use and being discarded to landfill are some of the primary places that silver ends up after being mined


… most physical silver mined over time has been lost to industrial use and gone unrecycled (


Expert silver researchers state that 90% of all silver mined has been lost to landfills (


Total Global Silver Demand


[Between 2010 to 2019, global silver demand ranged between 966 and 1071 million ounces each year]

In 2020, the total global demand for silver amounted to 896.1 million ounces


Are We Running Out Of Silver? And, Will We Run Out In The Future?

In the short term, it appears as though society won’t run out of silver.

However, some reports indicate that silver deficits (demand outweighing supply and production) could start in the next decade or so

Having said that though, shows global annual silver reserves from 2010 to 2021, and reserves have consistently stayed above 500,000 metric tons.

In this instance it might be accurate to say that, as long as capacity to increase silver production to meet demand isn’t a limitation, and as long as reserves also continue to stay stable and don’t consistently trend down, there’s a reasonable chance we won’t run out of silver.

This is also without taking into account the silver in landfills and other silver in use above ground that has already been mined, that might be able to be recovered and re-used at some point.

We wrote about some factors that might impact when we run out of gold in this guide, and some of these factors may also apply to silver. indicates that some of the factors that could impact when we run out of silver could be production rate (whether production continues at current rates, or whether production remains static), whether there’s new extractable silver deposit discoveries, price changes, and consumption rate]


When Will We Run Out Of Silver? … How Many Years Of Silver Do We Have Left?

Estimates for how many years of silver we might have left can vary

Some estimates indicate supply could be an issue as early as 2028 to 2033, whilst others indicate that all silver mines could be depleted by 2240



[Based on current reserves and prices, we could run out of silver somewhere between 2028 and 2033, but it depends on whether production rate trends continue, or if production stays static depending on production rates]

[Additionally, if gold prices go up, gold becomes more economic to mine and more gold will be produced/mined]



The timing estimate range for peak silver production is narrow, in the range 2027–2038, with the best estimate in 2034.

By 2240, all silver mines will be nearly empty and exhausted


Potential Difficulty In Obtaining Accurate Gold & Silver Resource Estimates 

Gold and silver reserves and holdings are not always reported accurately. Some of the potential reasons for this are:

– Gold above ground can be tracked in terms of mine production to date, but, once gold is in use, it can be harder to track. The same applies for silver

– Smaller mines in developing nations often don’t report their mined gold and silver


Has There Been A Silver Shortage Recently? And, What Are Some Reasons For Silver Shortages?

Different reports have different answers to these questions, and the answer can change depending on the year.

One report from indicated that there was a physical shortage of silver and gold products early in 2021 due to increased demand and inability of mints to keep up with this demand.

However, has published some information that suggests that there is no supply shortage.

Regardless, providing an answer about silver shortages can involve a much deeper analysis which we won’t go into in this guide.


What Happens If We Run Out Of Silver?

Running out of any resource may impact things such as:

– The availability of that resource for the key things we use it for across society.


– The price of that resource as it becomes more scarce, and consequently, the affordability of the things we use that resource for 

The price of resources increasing as reserves are depleted is something we mentioned in our guide about why we may not run out of mined resources anytime soon.


Is Silver A Renewable Resource?

Silver is not renewable because it’s finite, and we use it at rates that are higher than the rate it forms in nature.


Managing Silver Resources More Sustainably

There might be a range of ways to manage silver more sustainably, including but not limited to:

– Reducing consumption and demand for silver

– Re-using silver

– Recycling silver

– Substituting silver with other materials/metals where possible


These options and others might place less of a burden on extracting new silver in the future.


Silver Recycling

It appears as though silver doesn’t have high recycling rates at the moment, and there might be potential to improve silver recycling in the future (although, there may be tradeoffs in doing so, such as the question of whether it’s economically feasible or not)


How Much Silver Is Currently Recycled?

The volume of silver that was recycled worldwide in 2021 amounted to 173 million ounces … (


Today, around 15% of the world’s silver supply comes from recycled sources (


Feasibility Of Recycling Silver

Several reports indicate that it sometimes doesn’t make economic sense to recycle silver, depending on factors like silver prices, how much silver is contained in a specific item or piece of waste where silver is being recovered and recycled from, and so on


Silver Being Discarded Or Lost Across Society

Above in this guide, we note how some silver is lost to landfills, industrial applications, and other places and activities across society.


Silver Lost In E-Waste, & Potential To Improve Recovery Of Silver In Electronic Waste

We’ve previously outlined how a reasonable amount of silver can be found in e-waste, and how the recycling rate (and therefore recovery rates of gold) might have a lot of room for improvements compared to the currently low rates (of around 20%).

We’ve also discussed how we might recycle metals like silver better in the future in this guide as well.


Substitutes For Silver notes several direct metal substitutes for silver, and also indicates that some applications can use reduced silver content (to reduce silver consumption in these applications)









6. (accessing the 2022 USGS ‘Mineral Commodities Summary Report’)














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