Visualizing the Global Silver Supply Chain
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Visualizing the Global Silver Supply Chain

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The following content is sponsored by Blackrock Silver.

Visualizing the Global Silver Supply Chain

Although silver is widely known as a precious metal, its industrial uses accounted for more than 50% of silver demand in 2020.

From jewelry to electronics, various industries utilize silver’s high conductivity, aesthetic appeal, and other properties in different ways. With the adoption of electric vehicles, 5G networks, and solar panels, the world is embracing more technologies that rely on silver.

But behind all this silver are the companies that mine and refine the precious metal before it reaches other industries.

The above infographic from Blackrock Silver outlines silver’s global supply chain and brings the future of silver supply into the spotlight.

The Top 20 Countries for Silver Mining

Although silver miners operate in many countries across the globe, the majority of silver comes from a few regions.

RankCountry2020 Production (million ounces)% of Total
1Mexico 🇲🇽 178.122.7%
2Peru 🇵🇪 109.714.0%
3China 🇨🇳 108.613.8%
4Chile 🇨🇱 47.46.0%
5Australia 🇦🇺 43.85.6%
6Russia 🇷🇺 42.55.4%
7Poland 🇵🇱 39.45.0%
8United States 🇺🇸 31.74.0%
9Bolivia 🇧🇴 29.93.8%
10Argentina 🇦🇷 22.92.9%
11India 🇮🇳 21.62.8%
12Kazakhstan 🇰🇿 17.32.2%
13Sweden 🇸🇪 13.41.7%
14Canada 🇨🇦 9.31.2%
15Morocco 🇲🇦 8.41.1%
16Indonesia 🇮🇩 8.31.1%
17Uzbekistan 🇺🇿 6.30.8%
18Papua New Guinea 🇵🇬 4.20.5%
19Dominican Republic 🇩🇴 3.80.5%
20Turkey 🇹🇷 3.60.5%
N/ARest of the World 🌎 34.24.4%
N/ATotal784.4100%

Mexico, Peru, and China—the top three producers—combined for just over 50% of global silver production in 2020. South and Central American countries, including Mexico and Peru, produced around 390 million ounces—roughly half of the 784 million ounces mined globally.

Silver currency backed China’s entire economy at one point in history. Today, China is not only the third-largest silver producer but also the third-largest largest consumer of silver jewelry.

Poland is one of only three European countries in the mix. More than 99% of Poland’s silver comes from the KGHM Polska Miedź Mine, the world’s largest silver mining operation.

While silver’s supply chain spans all four hemispheres, concentrated production in a few countries puts it at risk of disruptions.

The Sustainability of Silver’s Supply Chain

The mining industry can often be subject to political crossfire in jurisdictions that aren’t safe or politically stable. Mexico, Chile, and Peru—three of the top five silver-producing nations—have the highest number of mining conflicts in Latin America.

Alongside production in politically unstable jurisdictions, the lack of silver-primary mines reinforces the need for a sustainable silver supply chain. According to the World Silver Survey, only 27% of silver comes from silver-primary mines. The other 73% is a by-product of mining for other metals like copper, zinc, gold, and others.

As the industrial demand for silver rises, primary sources of silver in stable jurisdictions will become more valuable—and Nevada is one such jurisdiction.

Nevada: The Silver State

Nevada, known as the Silver State, was once the pinnacle of silver mining in the United States.

The discovery of the Comstock Lode in 1859, one of America’s richest silver deposits, spurred a silver rush in Nevada. But after the Comstock Lode mines began declining around 1874, it was the Tonopah district that brought Nevada’s silver production back to life.

Tonopah is a silver-primary district with a 100:1 silver-to-gold ratio. It also boasts 174 million ounces of historical silver production under its belt. Furthermore, between 1900 and 1950, Tonopah produced high-grade silver with an average grade of 1,384 grams per tonne. However, the Second World War brought a stop to mining in Tonopah, with plenty of silver left to discover.

Today, Nevada is the second-largest silver-producing state in the U.S. and the Tonopah district offers the opportunity to revive a secure and stable source of primary silver production for the future.

Blackrock Silver is working to bring silver back to the Silver State with exploration at its flagship Tonopah West project in Nevada.

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A Breakdown of Americans’ Monthly Credit Card Spending

Do you know where your money goes? From travel to gas, we break down Americans’ monthly credit card spending by category.

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Credit Card Spending

Americans’ Monthly Credit Card Spending

If you were fortunate enough to keep your job during the pandemic, you probably noticed a financial benefit: you spent less. Amid restrictions, credit card spending on fun activities—like going out for dinner—became less frequent.

Looking ahead, the majority of Americans plan to continue at least one budget change post-pandemic, including eating out less (49%), buying fewer clothes and shoes (41%), and traveling less (37%). Of course, the first step in budgeting is tracking where your money is going.

In the above graphic from Personal Capital, we break down Americans’ monthly credit card spending by category. It’s the first in a three-part series that will explore the spending and saving of Americans.

Behind the Numbers

Credit card spending is based on anonymized data from Personal Capital users, who tend to have a higher-than-average net worth. For this particular subset of users, people had an average net worth of $1.3 million and a median net worth of $405,000. Therefore, the credit card spending amounts may be higher than those of the general U.S. population.

It’s also worth noting that the data reflects credit card spending only. It does not include expenses such as mortgage or rental payments, which are typically paid through other methods.

Credit Card Spending by Category

Here’s a breakdown of monthly credit card spending, based on averaged data from November 2020 to October 2021.

CategoryMonthly Spend% of Monthly Spend
Travel$82216.9%
General Merchandise$81516.7%
Restaurants$56711.6%
Groceries$56211.5%
Clothing/Shoes$52210.7%
Home Improvement$51910.7%
Healthcare$3587.4%
Online Services$3316.8%
Entertainment$2104.3%
Gas$1683.4%
Total$4,874100.0%

Users with no transactions in a particular category were excluded from the average spending amounts. Data is statistically weighted by age to ensure accurate and reliable representation of the total U.S. population, 20 years of age and older.

As border restrictions ease, Americans are spending the most on travel. In fact, 83% of Americans say they are excited to plan a trip in a post-pandemic world. The most popular merchant within travel is Airbnb, followed by airlines such as Delta and United as air travel recovers from its pandemic slump. However, this recovery could be in jeopardy amid fresh concerns over the Omicron variant.

Travel is closely followed by general merchandise, at places like Amazon, Costco, Walmart, and Target. Monthly spending in this category has averaged at $815 over the last year. Of course, this could climb even higher near year-end due to the holiday spending boom typically seen in the U.S. every year.

On the other hand, Americans spend the least on online services (such as Google and Facebook), entertainment, and gas. Though the average monthly spending on gas was the lowest of all categories, it increased by 60% from November 2020 to October 2021. This is likely due to gas being one of the categories hit hardest by inflation, along with increased travel.

Turning Reduced Spending Into Savings

With the swipe of a credit card, it can be easy to underestimate how quickly eating out and online shopping add up. However, by taking a closer look at your credit card spending, you can get a sense of where your money is going.

Like most Americans, you may also decide to carry over at least one budget change post-pandemic. What do Americans want to do with the extra cash? Over half plan to put it towards savings, and 16% aim to contribute more to retirement savings or investments.

In Part 2 of the Americans’ Spending and Saving series, we’ll break down Americans’ financial assets by age.

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Copper’s Essential Role in Protecting Public Health

Copper can kill up to 99.9% of bacteria on surfaces within two hours of exposure and slow the spread of diseases.

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Copper’s Essential Role in Protecting Public Health

Every day, high-touch surfaces present health risks to people in public spaces, and especially the most vulnerable in healthcare. In fact, of every 100 hospitalized patients at any given time, seven will get at least one healthcare-acquired or “hospital infection”.

With naturally antimicrobial properties, copper can kill up to 99.9% of bacteria on surfaces within two hours of exposure and slow the spread of diseases.

In this infographic from our sponsor Teck, we explore copper’s bacteria-fighting abilities and its crucial role in public health.

How Copper Kills Bacteria

Due to its powerful antimicrobial properties, copper kills bacteria in sequential steps:

  • First, copper ions on the surface are recognized by the bacteria as an essential nutrient and enter cell.
  • Then, a lethal dose of copper ions interferes with normal cell functions.
  • Finally, the copper binds to the enzymes, impeding the cell from breathing, eating, digesting, or creating energy.

This rapid killing mechanism prevents cells from replicating on copper surfaces and significantly reduces the amount of bacteria living on the surface.

Antimicrobial copper is effective against bacteria that causes common diseases like staph infections and E. coli that causes foodborne illness. The metal continuously kills bacteria and never wears out.

Besides bacteria, researchers are currently studying copper’s impacts on the virus that causes COVID-19. A previous study suggested that SARS-CoV-2 was completely destroyed within four hours on copper surfaces, as compared to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to three days on plastic and stainless steel. Pre-pandemic studies also demonstrated copper’s ability to kill other coronaviruses.

The Applications of Antimicrobial Copper

Institutions around the world have already deployed antimicrobial copper solutions relating to hospitals, fitness centers, mass transit systems, schools, professional sports teams, office buildings, restaurants, and more.

To date, antimicrobial copper has been installed in more than 300 healthcare facilities around the world. Taking the reduced costs of shorter patient stay and treatment into consideration, the payback time for installing copper fittings is only two months, according to an independent study by the University of York’s Health Economics Consortium.

In Canada, Teck has worked with its partners to install antimicrobial copper coatings on high-touch surfaces in hospitals, educational buildings and transit.

The Stanley Cup champions Los Angeles Kings have installed antimicrobial copper surfaces in their strength and training facility in California. Furthermore, over 50 water bottle filling stations made from antimicrobial copper can also be found throughout the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta.

Copper’s Role in Public Health

While many hospitals and other institutions are already using copper fittings, others are still not aware of its impactful properties.

As awareness increases, copper can become a simple but effective material to help control the spread of infections.

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