Global silver production, after four consecutive annual declines, recovered in 2021, growing by 5.3% to 884.5 million ounces (Moz). This rise was linked to post-pandemic recoveries as most mines were able to operate at full capacity throughout that year. Output from Peru (+21.5%) and Mexico (+9.2%) were significant contributors to the overall growth. In addition, 38.7% growth was observed from Bolivia while there were major declines in production in Chile (-13.1%), Russia (-8.6%), and Kazakhstan (-5%).
Despite impacts to the global supply chain due to the Russia-Ukraine war, global silver mine production is still expected to grow in 2022, albeit by 1.6% to 898.9moz in 2022, versus a previous expectation of 3.6% growth. Moderating the growth are forecast declines in output from Peru (-7.2%) and Russia (-5.5%). In Peru’s case, mine production will be impacted due to strikes and protests that remain a potential ongoing risk for the country’s mining industry. These declines will, however, be offset by growth elsewhere with significant increases expected in Canada (32.1%), Chile (21.9%) and Kazakhstan (19.8%).
Overall, global silver mine production over the 2022-2026 period is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.3% to reach 945.8Moz in 2026. Growth will be supported by increased output from Mexico, China and Peru, whose combined output is forecast to increase from 446.7Moz in 2022 to 455.3Moz in 2026. In addition, a growth during the period is expected from Chile (1.7%) and Australia (3.4%).
Projects with potential to commence operations during the forecast period include the Las Chispas project in Mexico, which is wholly owned by SilverCrest Metals Inc., and is currently under construction. At the end of Q1, 2022, overall construction progress at Las Chispas was 95.7%. With an annual silver production capacity of 5.2Moz, the project is expected to commence operations in the fourth quarter of 2023. Further additions are expected from late 2023 from Chile’s Andesita project, which is wholly owned by Corporacion Nacional del Cobre de Chile (Codelco) and is currently under construction. With an annual silver production capacity of 4.9Moz, the project is expected to commence operations in the fourth quarter of 2023.