NEW YORK ( TheStreet ) -- Investors are bullish on silver prices in 2011, according to a poll conducted by TheStreet.

How high silver prices will go has been a hotly contested debate. Silver prices are up 16% in 2011 and more than 27% since February. Silver reached a 31-year high when it settled at $36.04 an ounce in March. The popular silver ETF iShares Silver Trust ( SLV - Get Report) currently holds 10,974 tons of silver worth $12.6 billion.

Silver suffered as investors rebalanced their portfolios at the start of the year but then recouped losses on hopes of an economic recovery (industrial metal) and turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa (safe haven metal) with $1-$2 price swings becoming the norm.

Silver is volatile because it's a safe haven asset with a cyclical kick, as 60% of its usage comes from industrial use. Silver can be found in a plethora of products, from iPads to cars to solar panels.

Silver also has a reputation of being manipulated and less liquid. Silver hit a record high of $50 an ounce in 1980 after the famous (or infamous) Hunt brothers bought the metal aggressively for 7 years -- at one time owning more than 200 million ounces of silver. The silver bubble burst soon thereafter shedding 50% of its value almost immediately, leaving some jumpy traders to warn of when silver's current bubble will burst.

The almost 2,000 people who have taken our poll so far (the poll is still open, go vote) are proving to be brazenly bullish on silver. The majority of voters, at 41.1% and more than 810 voters, believe that silver prices will end 2011 between $40 and $45 an ounce. An even more surprising 32.6%, or more than 650 voters, believe silver could trade over $50. At just over 420 votes, 21% thought prices would range between $35 and $40. Only 89 of those polled were bearish anticipating that silver would fall to under $30 an ounce.

Despite recent corrections, however, silver has managed to hold above the $32 level, leading some analysts to revise their forecasts. BNP Paribas recently updated its silver forecast to $35.50 in 2011 and to $36.25 in 2012.

Other estimates are not as conservative.

Bob Archer, president and chief executive officer of Great Panther Silver ( GPR), told TheStreet that he expects silver prices could crest $40 in 2011.

Silvercorp ( SVM - Get Report)'s corporate secretary, Lorne Waldman, predicts $40 silver as well while Boyd of Angico-Eagle is anticipating that prices will reach $40-$45 an ounce.

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-- Written by Alix Steel in New York.

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