Indeed, silver mining is so severely depressed that despite a six-fold increase in the price of silver over the last decade, most of the world's silver is still produced as a
of other mining -- while bankrupted silver mines remain shuttered all over the world and new projects are extremely slow to develop.
Further proof of the suppressed/manipulated price of silver comes from the
collapse of inventories
, where global inventories plummeted by more than 90% over just 15 years (from 1990 to 2005). Despite the collapse in inventories, the six-fold increase in the price of silver has barely registered any reaction at all on the supply side, where mine-supply limps higher at an anemic rate of about 2% per year.
This is yet more proof of silver price manipulation. As with any/every commodity market where prices are free to respond to supply/demand fundamentals, we would see prices rise to whatever level was necessary to fuel new supply and discourage consumption -- until supply/demand equilibrium is reached. This is the literal definition of a "free market," something most of us have never seen in the silver market to date.
This brings us to recycling. Here a comparison of the silver market and the platinum market is highly instructive, given the many close similarities between the two markets. Both silver and platinum possess an abundance of superb chemical/metallurgical properties. Both are used in many high-tech industrial applications. And both tend to be used in small quantities in those applications.
Here the similarities end. As already noted, platinum recycling has quadrupled over the past decade, despite the price of platinum having merely doubled during that time. In our inflation-ravaged economies, the price of platinum has underperformed vs. most other commodities.
In the silver market, those parameters are totally reversed. Despite the six-fold increase in the price of silver over that same time, silver recycling has remained essentially flat. The least-worst source for supply/demand data on the silver market is the
. Silver-recycling is currently such a minor factor in the supply/demand picture that it doesn't even record
as a category unto itself.