American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.

Happy Silver Month!

It’s March. And that doesn’t just mean that spring is around the corner – we’re also kicking off another month of highlighting yet another critical mineral. While in previous months, or educational campaign has focused on industrial and high-tech metals and minerals, our Metal of the Month of March – silver – really highlights the breadth of our metals and minerals needs.

By definition a “precious” metal like gold, it may come as a surprise to those who see silver primarily as shiny adornment or a means to store value that the biggest end users of silver may actually be specialized industries. Anthony David highlights some of the lesser-known applications of silver for Critical Strategic Metals:

  • According to David, in 2010, the thick film photovoltaic industry, the automobile industry, and the PCs and laptop manufacturing industry accounted for the largest share of silver end usage, while cell phones, PDPs, and button batteries were the “other significant users of silver.”
  • Meanwhile, after demand has increased in recent months, this trend will likely continue courtesy of emerging technologies. Among them are:

  • Broader usage of silver electrodes currently used in solid-state lighting (SSL);
  • Usage of silver in superconductors for power transmission, and supercapacitors, which can capture and release energy from various sources;
  • Wider application of “nanosilver” in plastics, medical articles and devices, coatings and textiles, drawing from silver’s antimicrobial and conductive properties. For the latter, think Agloves, or The North Face’s ETIP Glove.
  • If that alone wasn’t reason enough to feature silver as our Metal of the Month, consider this: in spite of the fact that the United States is home to significant silver deposits, our import dependency rate for the precious metal currently stands at 75 percent – with further challenges for domestic producers on the horizon, as we’ll discuss in a further post in our series.