STRIEBRO – rastúci dopyt

V roku 2005 sa po prvý krát použilo viac striebra na výrobu šperkov ako na výrobu fotografického papiera.

As a precious metal, silver doesn't have the allure of gold. As an investment, it's not as hip as Google.

But dowdy old silver is suddenly chic.

Silver prices are at their highest in more than 25 years, and mining companies are riding an economic boom. Silver -- heavily used in computers, cell phones and other electronics, plus jewelry and photography -- is suddenly one of the hottest commodities in the world.

Here in Idaho's Silver Valley, the handful of surviving mining companies are enjoying record revenues and big expansions. Two publicly traded companies -- Hecla Mining and Coeur -- are having banner years. "In 2006, we reported the highest earnings and lowest cash costs for silver in the history of our 116-year-old company," said Phil Baker, president of Hecla Mining Co. "We now have the potential to set another record in 2007."

The worldwide price for silver is more than $13 an ounce, highest since the metal reached $20 in 1980. Before last year, silver hadn't been in double digits since 1983.

At The Silver Institute in Washington, D.C., they call silver "the indispensable metal," because a bit is used in every computer and cell phone, and in many other industrial applications. Silver is a superior conductor of electricity and is very durable, said Michael DiRienzo, director of the institute.

As a result, stockpiles of the metal have disappeared even as demand is rising.

Silver jewelry is also popular in China and India, two huge markets with growing numbers of affluent consumers. The worldwide market for silver jewelry soared from $1.4 billion in 2000 to $2.6 billion in 2005, he said.

That demand makes up for big drops in the market for photographic paper and for silver in currency, he said.

The amount of silver used for jewelry exceeded the amount used for photographic paper for the first time in 2005, he said.

Many experts say silver remains a good investment. Mark O'Byrne, managing director of Gold and Silver Investments Ltd. in Ireland, speculated that silver prices could reach $20 in 2007, as demand grows while the supply does not keep up.

"It is estimated that 95 percent of the silver ever mined has been consumed by the global photography, technology, medical, defense and electronic industries," he wrote in a recent commentary. "This silver is gone forever."

Silver production worldwide remains flat, and the amount of silver mined has been less than demand every year for the past 15 years, O'Byrne said. The difference was made up by stockpiles that are now depleted.

That means production is not likely to grow much even as prices go up, O'Byrne said.

Peru and Mexico are the two largest silver producers in the world. The United States ranks eighth. Two of the nation's largest silver producers are based in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

Source: GoldS


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