The History of Silver Mining

People have been in awe of silver for hundreds of years. It has been mined since early times, not just for jewellery but for coins as well. It’s very rare to find nuggets of silver. Instead, it tends to be found combined with other elements such as arsenic, chlorine, antimony or sulphur. It is also found in various types of ore. Because it is usually found combined with other metals, mining it is not the end of the production story. The silver has to be extracted by a process of electrolysis or amalgamation.

We’ve been mining silver for centuries, and newly discovered deposits regularly sparked silver rushes. Deposits in recent years have centred around the Americas, leading to the growth of countries such as Mexico and Andean countries. Canada and The United States have also benefited from recent discoveries.

Where Did it All Begin?

Did you realise that silver is mentioned in the Book of Genesis? There is also evidence that silver was being separated from lead as far back as the 4th millennium BC. Currency used in Ancient Athens was made using silver mined at Laurium, a town in the south-east part of Greece. There are still washing tables existing at the site of the ore mine. These would have been used to wash the ore before smelting. Silver was extracted from lead ore right up to the middle of the 15th century. After that time, it was extracted from copper ore in far bigger quantities.

Silver and the Americas

When the crowns of Europe conquered the Americas they brought back with them huge quantities of silver. This sudden introduction lead to a period of inflation. At the time, silver was also extremely valuable in China. Around the mid 1500’s silver became a commodity used around the world and the rise and fall of its value affected the global market. Mining in Chile was revived as a result of a silver rush and led to an increase in Chileans seeking a living mining silver, rather than farming. The mining of silver has been a significant influence on the settlement of the western side of North America. There have been silver rushes in Colorado, Nevada, Cobalt, California, Ontario and British Columbia. However, major deposits of silver ore were not discovered until 1859, in Virginia City, Nevada.

The top producing silver mines in he world today are located in Australia, Mexico, Bolivia, Peru, Poland and Mexico.

If you want to know more about silver and its potential as an investment, Indigo Precious Metals will be able to answer your questions.

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