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Introduction

  • Silver  is a chemical element with the symbol "Ag"  and atomic number 47.
  • A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it has the highest electrical conductivity of any element and the highest thermal conductivity of any metal.
  • Silver is found in native form, alloyed with gold or combined with sulfur, arsenic, antimony or chlorine in ores such as argentite (Ag2S), horn silver (AgCl), and pyrargyrite (Ag3SbS3).
  • Silver can be shaped by hammering, spinning, or drawing - it can be decorated with etching, chasing, or engraving - sterling silver is the queen of metals.

Manufacturing Process

  • Sources of silver include; silver mined directly, silver mined as a by-product of gold, copper, lead and zinc mining, and silver extracted from recycled materials, primarily used photographic materials.
  • The metal can also be produced during the electrolytic refining of copper and by the application of the Parkes process on lead metal obtained from lead ores that contain small amounts of silver.
  • A method called the cyanide, or heap leach, process has gained acceptance within the mining industry because it is a low-cost way of processing lower-grade silver ores.
  • To extract silver from copper-containing ores, an electrolytic refining process is used.

Application

  • Silver dissolves in mercury to make amalgams that are widely used for dental fillings.
  • Silver is also used to make solder and brazing alloys, electrical contacts, and high-capacity silver-zinc and silver-cadmium batteries.
  • Silver is widely used in topical gels and impregnated into bandages because of its wide-spectrum antimicrobial activity.
  • It is used in the production of adhesives, dinnerware, mylar recording tape, and many other products.
  • Specialized uses include switch and relay contacts for automobile controls and accessories, automotive window heating, and in electrodes for electrocardiograms.

Market

  • The largest silver producing countries are Mexico, Peru, the United States, Australia and Chile.
  • In the future, silver will likely continue to be used for special industrial applications, as well as for consumer items, such as jewelry and silverware.
  • Silver’s industrial demand arises from its unique physical and chemical properties which dictate that it cannot easily be replaced as an industrial metal.
  • The use of silver in Photography applications is projected to remain roughly constant over the next 5 years as the digital camera sales growth rate has steadied in the West and also as China and emerging market countries continue strong demand for lower total-cost conventional film cameras.

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