U.S. Geological Survey
Supersedes Open-File Report 03-033
By Henry E. Hilliard
In 2000, the global silver supply deficit (the difference between mine and scrap supply and silver demand) was more than 3,000 metric tons. U.S. silver demand for photographic applications alone was nearly equal to annual U.S. silver production. Until 1968, the U.S. silver deficit was filled by withdrawals from the U.S. Treasury reserves. In 2000, the deficit was filled by destocking, imports, and recycling. Photographic wastes, spent catalysts, and electronic scrap are the major sources of materials for silver recycling. Nearly 1,800 metric tons of silver contained in these materials were available for recycling in 2000. Other recyclable silver-bearing materials include dental alloys, jewelry, and silverware. In 2000, an estimated 1,700 tons of silver were recovered from secondary sources in the United States. The U.S. recycling efficiency for old scrap was calculated to have been 97 percent in 2000; the recycling rate was estimated to be 32 percent.
Circular 1196-N [314-KB PDF file]
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U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
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