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Origin, deposits and the mining of silver

Worldwide, 1.25 million tons of silver have been mined so far and its reserves are in decline. If we were to take the total amount of silver and make a cube out of it, it would be 40 meters high. This is roughly the height of the Statue of Liberty. Although more and more silver is recycled and returned to production, the amount of silver is still insufficient due to its widespread use in many industries.

Origin and mining of silver

Clean, pure silver is even rarer in nature than gold. It crystallises as a fine fluff in rock cavities, at other times it appears in the form of variously distorted wires, rarely as strips or lumps. These strange crystalline shapes also belong to the interesting properties of this white metal. A scatter of fine crystalline threads sometimes resembles a strand or even a locket of hair, a tangle of roots, a bunch of grass, moss or a twig. These shapes are therefore professionally referred to as dendrites In addition, silver also occurs in so-called “whiskers” and very rarely in nuggets.

 
stříbro ve formě krystalických nitek

Mining

Silver nuggets are formed in the upper layer of an ore deposit, which corresponds to the patterns of primary sorting and crystallisation of ores, which form a kind of aureole around the solidifying hot flowing matter in the Earth’s crust. This is why most pure silver is found right at the start of mining at a newly discovered deposit – and since most of the silver mines of the Old World were discovered in the Middle Ages, and sometimes even in antiquity, unique findings now almost never occur. However, there is still a lot of hidden wealth in the American continent, and the local silver mines provide a great deal of pure silver. Mostly, however, it comes not in whiskers or large nuggets, but in very tiny grains and flakes that an untrained eye would not recognise from the “gangue”. Silver is covered with a black-grey layer, and the silvery-white metal with its typical gloss appears only when freshly scraped.

 

 
stříbrné nugety najdeme dnes již pouze vzácně
Zdroj: wikipedia

Largest silver deposits

The world’s largest deposits of silver were discovered with the European colonisation of America. New and rich deposits provided up to several tons of nuggets and sheets of white metal, and all this wealth was imported to Europe. The price of silver rapidly fell, significantly affecting mining across Europe.


The main source of silver was Mexico and Peru, and the silver reserves from Mexican mines have been exported to Europe from the 16th century right up until this day. Around 100,000 tons of silver were mined in Peru and in neighbouring Bolivia from the mid-16th century until the beginning of World War II. Silver lumps of up to several tons in weight were found in Peru. After the conquest of the Inca Empire, new and ever richer deposits of silver and gold were discovered in Peru. Thus, in 1630, the rich deposit of Cerro de Pasco was discovered, which is still the most important centre of mining and metallurgical work in central Peru. The deposit was discovered by an Indian shepherd who grazed sheep in the Andes at about 4,000 meters above sea level. In the evening, he made a fire to warm himself, and in the morning, as he rummaged through the ashes, he found intertwined wires and pieces of silver in the fire.

 

   




 
Největší stříbrný důl na světě - Cannington, Austrálie
 


 
Zdroje:
Gemologie.turnovec.cz
Prvky.com
SilverInstitute.org

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