Is there so little silver around that it cannot be located and mined at large-scale, commercial levels? Absolutely not. While silver is admittedly a "precious" metal, it is roughly 17 times more abundant in the Earth's crust than gold; and throughout history the majority of the world's gold has always been produced via primary gold mining.
Indeed, the parallels (and differences) between silver mining and gold mining are highly instructive. Despite being much less abundant than the lesser "base" metals, gold and silver have always been produced via primary mining. Even in the 1980s and '90s when (by remarkable coincidence) the price of gold had also been driven to historic lows, most of the world's gold still came from primary mining.
Where the gold-mining industry and the silver-mining industry differed was that the level of price suppression with gold was never as savage/extreme as occurred in the silver market, and so the primary gold-mining industry survived.
The historical evidence, recent empirical evidence and simple arithmetic/economics of global mining are crystal-clear. All commercial/industrial metals should be supplied mostly through primary mining (subject to the limited exceptions previously noted). This directly implies an even more important principle: By definition, the "fair-market price" for any metal is one which is high enough to support primary mining as the dominant component of supply.There can be no argument here. The only reason why gold can be "primarily" mined and sold by the ounce whereas copper is mined/sold by the pound is price. This, in turn, leads to another unequivocal conclusion: The only reason why the majority of (new) silver supplied to the market today does not come from primary silver mining is that the price of silver continues to be suppressed far below its fair-market value. The same mining geologists scouring the world for gold, and generally encountering it in concentrations of between 1 and 5 grams per ton of ore, are locating silver (in large deposits) at concentrations of between 100 and 200 grams per ton -- and sometimes more. If silver were fairly priced in the marketplace today, the majority of silver production would be coming via primary silver mining instead of as a byproduct of other mining. This is a conclusive "smoking gun" pointing toward the manipulation of the price of silver in the silver market. The fact that the laughably myopic CFTC can see "no evidence" of silver manipulation despite claiming to have focused all its regulatory/analytical prowess on this market for roughly the past five years only undermines the legitimacy of that institution still further. Despite the rise in the price of silver from under $4/ounce (its 600-year low) to over $30/ounce, a large portion of the world's small-but-growing number of primary silver miners are struggling just to turn a net profit. Yet despite the economic realities of supply and demand, all we get out of the mainstream media is repeated, idiotic rhetoric about some mythical "silver bubble." The absurd/incredible paradigm of modern silver mining is mirrored by parallel imbalances and absurdities in the world of silver. Part 2 of this series will look at the investment paradox, which has resulted from the serial suppression of silver prices. And Part 3 will focus on the market paradox -- and yet again shine the spotlight on glaring evidence of silver manipulation.